Smuggling of Gold a White Collar Crime

“Smugglers, hoarders and black marketers have no country, caste or nation of their own. Their only ‘God’ and concern is the yellow metal ‘Gold’.”

White collar crimes are defined as non-violent crimes, generally committed by businessmen and government professionals. In simple words, crimes committed by people who acquire important positions in a company are called white collar crimes. India is a developing country and white collar crimes are becoming a major cause for its under development along with poverty, health, etc. The trend of white collar crimes in India poses a threat to the economic development of the country. These crimes require immediate intervention by the government by not only making strict laws but also ensuring its proper implementation. Recently, there is a case occurred in Kerala in which diplomats, politicians alleged to had involvement in smuggling of gold. This case has made headlines in all the newspaper and news channels.

In Kerala the local people migrate themselves in foreign countries like United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the purpose of job. 70% of Indians in UAE are Keralites and 35.5 per cent of Keralite expatriates are in UAE.In October 2016 the first consulate of United Arab Emirates (UAE) in South India, was opened in Thiruvananthapuram the motive was to increase the higher education and tourism sector to be increased.

On Sunday 5th of July 2020 the Custom and Preventive Department had clutched 30 kg of Gold from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport which is worth of Rs. 15 crore. It was an air cargo diplomatic consignment was send from United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Trivandrum International Airport in which the gold bars and sticks were hidden inside some of the household equipment to avoid detection. 

As there was an involvement of Consulate of United Arab Emirates (UAE) the custom department was unable to raid them directly, they obtained permission from Ministry of External Affairs, as per the Vienna Convention the consignments to diplomatic mission enjoys immunity. When the permission was granted from Ministry Of External affairs officers of United Arab Emirates (UAE) was called in the presence of them the consignment was unwrapped.

The consignment was in the name of Sarith Kumar who has been previously working has a Public Relation Officer of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) consulate General Office was arrested on 6th July 2020 remanded for 14 days. Sarith Kumar confessed to be in cahoots with Swapna Suresh on the crime. The custom department has accused Swapna Suresh as the mastermind behind trying to smuggle about 30kg gold.

Who is Swapna Suresh ?

She was a consultant to one of the offices under the State Government’s Information Technology ministry. She worked as the marketing liaison officer of the Space Park under the Kerala State Information Technology (KSITIL). After the Customs department intensified its search for her, state government terminated her contract with the IT department with immediate effect. Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair who was also involved in the attempt of gold smuggling was detained by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as on 12th July 2020

However, this is not the first case against Swapna Suresh in 2013, when she joined as an HR executive with AISATS, an airport service firm, in Thiruvananthapuram. It came to light later that she had conspired with another senior executive at the firm to forge a false complaint of sexual abuse against an airport staff. She had prepared as many as 17 complaints, in many bogus names, against the person, who later complained to the state police seeking a probe into the conspiracy. Suresh was listed as an accused, but the investigation was disrupted, allegedly because of her influence. It was alleged that she has connections with principal secretary to Kerala Chief Minister. There were photos of Swapna Suresh often seen moving in key social, political and bureaucratic circles.

Sapna Suresh filed for anticipatory bail in the Kerala High Court claiming that she had contacted the airport officer regarding the cargo on the alleged directions of top diplomat in the UAE Consulate General office, Rashid Khamis Al Shameli. She also claimed that she was still working with the consulate under ‘work on request basis’.

This things make it clear that she has contacts with powerful people who are involved in such scandalous crime still hiding their faces with mask on it. They are the big sharks of the ocean who train the small fishes push them to fight on their behalf and hide themselves. When the small fishes die on the battleground they start searching for another fish.

What United Arab Emirates (UAE) embassy has to say?

The embassy in his statement told they utterly condemns the attempted misuse of diplomatic channels by an individual engaged in smuggling activity. They rejected such acts unequivocally affirms that mission and its diplomatic staff had no role in this matter.

Anti-Terror Law

The home minster ordered a probe by National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the case. According to NIA an FIR is registered under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2004 sections which are as follows :

Section 15- Terrorist Act (what all includes and define terrorist act)

Section 16- Punishment for Terrorist act

if such act has resulted in the death of any person, be punishable with death or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine

 in any other case, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 17-Punishment for raising funds for terrorist act.

Whoever, in India or in a foreign country, directly or indirectly, raises or provides funds or collects funds, whether from a legitimate or illegitimate source, from any person or persons or attempts to provide to, or raises or collects funds for any person or persons, knowing that such funds are likely to be used, in full or in part by such person or persons or by a terrorist organisation or by a terrorist gang or by an individual terrorist to commit a terrorist act, notwithstanding whether such funds were actually used or not for commission of such act, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 18. Punishment for conspiracy, etc.

Whoever conspires or attempts to commit, or advocates, abets, advises or 3 [incites, directly or knowingly facilitates] the commission of, a terrorist act or any act preparatory to the commission of a terrorist act, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

Enforcement Directorate

After customs, NIA, the Enforcement Directorate has also joined the probe in the case. Enforcement Directorate zonal officer in Kochi has launched a preliminary enquiry into the matter under Section 3 of the Foreign Exchange management act which says about Dealing in Foreign exchange, etc.

There has been gold smuggling in our country as the rates of gold in India is expensive as compared in UAE also there is invasion in tax. Kerala is been their favourite designation for bringing the smuggled gold as in Kerala they can easily find customers. This case also light up the racket which brings high officials, diplomats under one roof as using the diplomatic channel to smuggle the gold one should need strong connections to make the smuggling successful. There would be a needs of strong connections in the right corridors of power enforcement officials normally do not lay hands on consignments tagged ‘diplomatic’ as these are highly sensitive and if a search fails to yield results, the officer concerned will be held answerable for straining diplomatic relations between two countries.

As per the law of Torts the law is settled that a master is vicariously liable for the acts of his servant acting in the course of his employment. Unless the act is done in the course of employment, the servant’s act does not make the employer liable. In other words, for the master’s liability to rise, the act must be a wrongful act authorised by the master or a wrongful and unauthorised mode of doing some act authorised by the master.  Similarly, in this case the racket is deep rooted the main influences is still hiding what we see is just a half reality if we have to eradicate such crimes we need to reach the deep roots from where it is all started.

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