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Big gold haul in Kochi

Customs Department officials have seized 22 Kg of gold from a  Special Economic Zone [SEZ] based jewelry making unit,   in Kochi today. The officials seized the gold while it was being transported out of the zone, in order to sell to the local jewelers. The Customs Department informed that the gold was imported duty free in order to make ornaments and to re-export. The gold imported  for  the units located in the  zone is exclusively meant  for value addition and re-export,  which  is not supposed to enter into the local market.

The department has arrested  four  persons including Sanjay Subbarao Nigam, managing director of Ashwini  Gold, which had imported the gold. The department has raided several jewelries in Kochi and Thrissur today in this connection.  The Kochi Customs  had earlier  seized roughly 100 Kgs of gold  which was sold in Bangalore and arrested employees  of Rajesh Exports Limited, a Bangalore based manufacturer and exporter of gold jewelry.  In last December, iT officials had raided show rooms of  Shubh Jewelers, the retail arm of the company across Karnataka.

A non-bailable arrest warrant had been issued by a Kerala court against Prashant J Mehta, Managing Director of Rajesh Exports in connection with the  case,  in October, 2013.  

Directorate of Revenue Intelligence [DRI] registered the  case against the listed gold exporting and retail company,  which has a unit in  the SEZ, that it had allegedly diverted the imported gold as jewelry to the domestic market.

Meanwhile, six kg gold was found abandoned at two spots on the premises of Kozhikode International airport on Tuesday morning.

A bag containing two kg of gold was recovered once the passengers arrived from Dubai on an Emirates flight left the airport.

After a while, an Air India flight landed and immediately after the passengers leaving the terminal, the officials conducted a search and found a suitcase containing 4 kg of gold near the main elevator.

The Customs officials questioned a few passengers and airport staff in connection with the incidents. The three international airports of Kerala became a major gateway of gold smuggling for the last 18 months. The customs officials had seized roughly 150 Kgs of gold from these airports and arrested several persons, including staff members of leading airlines.

According unofficial sources ten times of the gold seized so far had been smuggled to the state through Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram airports. A major chunk of the gold was sold to the various jewelry chains in and outside the state. There were allegations against a Kozhikode based jewelry chain that they bought smuggled gold. But in most cases the enquiry of both the Customs and DRI was stalled due to unknown reasons.

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