KATHMANDU, June 24: In yet another round of arrests in connection with the infamous 33 kg gold smuggling case, the high level committee formed by the home ministry to investigate the case has arrested three individuals in the last two days.
A team of the high level committee arrested businessman Prabin Agrawal, who was also known as Sanjay Khetan, from the Tribhuvan International Airport on Saturday morning, according to an official of the committee. Agrawal was all set to fly to New Delhi when he was arrested.
Agrawal’s arrest has come four days after his Indian business partner Bimal Poddar’s arrest. On Tuesday, the committee had arrested Poddar from Dillibazar after investigation showed his involvement in the case.
Two days after his arrest, the committee even raided Poddar’s apartment and obtained some important documents on Thursday. Poddar and Agrawal have been accused of operating the illegal Hundi business.
“After our preliminary investigation showed that Agrawal invested money for smuggling of gold from Dubai and also found gold traders in India to sell the smuggled gold, we arrested him from the airport,” said the source.
Agrawal’s involvement was revealed during the interrogation of Poddar, who is also a business partner of businessman Dipak Malhotra, according to the source.
On Friday, the high level committee arrested alleged illegal Hundi operator Imtiaz Ali, who was also known as Dabbu, and Akbar Shah for their involvement in the gold smuggling case, which had led to the murder of Sanam Shakya, the man who allegedly smuggled the gold into Nepal from Dubai.
Shakya’s death had led to the start of a high-level investigation, which led to the discovery of one of the biggest gold smuggling rackets which has already smuggled over 3,800 kilogram of gold into Nepal since 2015.
Over 70 individuals have already been indicted in the case. Two other individuals also died in mysterious circumstance, besides the murder of Shakya in connection with the gold smuggling case.
The arrested Akbar Shah runs a restaurant in Labim Mall.
Shah was arrested at 2 am on Friday and was interrogated. After Shah’s interrogation revealed Ali’s involvement, Ali was arrested later on the same day.
They have also been accused of sending money to Dubai through illegal means to purchase gold in Dubai for smuggling to Nepal and India.
On June 13, the committee had sealed six Bajeko Sekuwa outlets after the committee found the eatery promoter Chetnath Bhandari’s involvement in the gold smuggling racket. A case has been filed against Bhandari at Morang District Court. Bhandari is on the run.
On June 12, the committee had raided two gold shops belonging to Rajendra Shakya, one of the main accused in the smuggling case, in the capital and had seized gold, gold jewelries and other items worth over Rs 200 million.
In April, Rajendra was arrested by the committee in connection with the gold smuggling case and the murder of Sanam. Rajendra is currently in judicial custody at Jhumka Prison in Sunsari.
However, the committee has not been able to arrest another main suspect linked to the gold scam Mohan Kumar Agrawal (MK). Agrawal is allegedly the main investor of the gold smuggling racket. Police have already issued Interpol red corner notice against him.
Other key members of the gold smuggling racket include Chudamani Uprety, Bhujung Gurung and Chiring Wangel Ghale, according to police. Last week, the committee had brought Uprety, Gurung and Wangel Ghale to Kathmandu from Biratnagar for further investigations.
Police have already filed cases against over 60 individuals including top police officials and businessmen in connection with the gold smuggling case. The police officials indicted in the case include former DIG Govinda Niraula, SSP Dibesh Lohani, SP Bikash Raj Khanal, DSPs Prajit KC and Sanjaya Raut, assistant sub-inspector Bal Krishna Sanjel and constable Bishnu Bahadur Khadka.