In a shocking development, 103kg gold worth Rs 45cr has gone “missing” from the custody of India’s premier investigating agency the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in Tamil Nadu.
The incident came to light when Madras High Court ordered a probe into the missing gold. The state CB-CID has been asked to probe the matter with a designated timeline of six months.
The gold, which is part of 400.47kg in bullion and ornaments, was confiscated by the CBI when it carried out searches at Surana Corporation Limited’s Chennai office in 2012.
Following this, it was kept in the safes and vaults of Surana Corporation Ltd but under the CBI’s lock and seal. At that time, the total gold’s weight was measured to be 400.47 kg.
However, when the lock and seal was recently opened, it was found 103.864kg was missing.
Madras High Court has rejected the CBI’s plea that stated “the prestige of the CBI would come down if an investigation is done by the local police”.
The judge said: “This court cannot subscribe to this view because the law does not sanction such an inference. All policemen must be trusted, and it does not lie in the mouth of one to say that CBI have special horns, whereas, local police have only a tail.”
The court also ordered liquidator C. Ramasubramaniam to lodge a complaint with the CB-CID owing to the sudden disappearance of the confiscated gold.
According to the CBI’s official statement, the vaults were opened in the presence of the official liquidator, officials associated with six banks and independent witnesses and was inspected from February 27, 2020 to February 29, 2020 to hand over the gold to the lender banks of Surana as per the high court’s directive. The seals on the vaults were also found to be untouched. However, the gold weighed around 296kg.
The central agency giving an atypical response said the gold bars were weighed all together during the seizure. However, when it was handed over to the liquidator, the gold was weighed individually and that was the reason for the discrepancy.
It added: “As the discrepancy between the quantity mentioned in search memo and as per the weight came to notice, CBI promptly ordered an internal inquiry by a senior officer to look into the role of its officials, if any. It is clarified that the inventorised gold was not kept in Malkhana of CBI. Rather it was in premises of Surana only under the seal. While the enquiry was on, a petition was filed in the high court and accordingly the court passed an order. CBI’s internal enquiry continues and if any adverse role of any CBI officials surfaces, strict action will be taken against them.”