CBI books 3 officials for gold smuggling

File image of KIA

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has booked three customs and GST officials in connection with a gold paste smuggling racket that was busted at the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA), Bengaluru, in October.

The officials booked include Rajnish Kumar Saroh, Superintendent of Central Taxes, East Commissionerate, Sudarshan Kumar and Shiv Kumar Meena, both Inspectors of Customs. N T Jamsheer, proprietor of Best Way Super Market, and other unknown persons have also been booked.

In October 2018, 11 kgs of gold worth Rs 3.67 cr in paste form was seized from six passengers by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) officials, in what was said to be one of the largest seizures at the KIA.  

Investigation revealed that it was run by a network of ‘carriers’ and ‘receivers’, with Customs officials allegedly in cahoots with these individuals.

According to the FIR, officials had run the racket for more than a year before the DRI got wind of it. Rajnish, who is accused number one in the case, had selected two inspectors to facilitate the smuggling operation. Sudarshan was posted as Inspector of customs in the Air Intelligence Unit of the airport between August 2017 to August 2018, followed by Shiv Kumar before the racket was busted.

The arrest of six international passengers - Kamya Sharma, Asha Bhadrinath, Hakim, Navshad, Ejiyaz Khalid and Shibin Habeed - in October blew the lid off the smuggling racket. 

Modus operandi

Rajnish with the help of Jamsheer served as a link between the smugglers based in Dubai and the ‘carriers’ - passengers who smuggled gold. 

The smugglers in the Middle East had selected carriers in such a manner that they would not be screened at the airport. The carrier details were sent in advance to Jamsheer, who in turn shared it with Rajnish.

After receiving the details, Rajnish would verify the passenger details in the customs database with the help of Sudarshan and Shiv Kumar to check whether they fell under the suspect list. Following the same, the carriers would be given a go ahead to travel with illegal gold.

The carrier profiles were then forwarded to a set of ‘receivers’ - placed at pre-designated places to collect the gold - as soon as they passed through customs clearance.

According to the FIR, Rajnish received Rs 75.000 per carrier, while the other two received Rs 25,000. 

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