Around 103 kg gold worth Rs 45 crore has gone missing from the custody of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The gold, which is part of 400.47 kg in bullion and ornaments, was confiscated by the CBI when it carried out searches at Surana Corporation Ltd Chennai office in 2012.
Following their raids at Surana's Chennai office in 2012, the yellow metal was kept in the safes and vaults of Surana Corporation but under the lock and seal of the CBI.
Taking cognizance of the matter, the Madras High Court directed the Tamil Nadu Crime Branch-CID police to investigate the matter. The probe will be conducted by a SP-rank officer and must be completed within six months. Justice PN Prakash trashed the CBI's claim that its prestige will "go down" if the investigation was carried out by 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 judge further stated that this may be an Agni pariksha (test by fire) for the central agency, according to a PTI report.
The central agency claimed that it had handed over the 72 keys of the safes and vaults at Surana Corporation to the Chennai principal special court that looks into CBI cases. The CBI's official statement added that it searched the building of the Surana Corporation and prepared a search list. This search list mentioned 400.47 kg gold being inventoried and kept in the safes and vaults of Surana, sealed in presence of independent witnesses and Surana Corporation MD and other company officials.
According to the official statement by CBI, the vaults were opened in presence of the official liquidator, officials associated with six banks and independent witnesses and 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 directions. The seals on the vaults were found to be untouched. Gold, however, weighed around 296 kg.
The statement adds the central agency "promptly ordered an internal inquiry by a senior officer to look into the role of its officials, if any" as soon as the discrepancy between the quantity mentioned in the search memo and the actual weight surfaced. It also stated that strict action will be taken if "any adverse role of any CBI officials surfaces."
Edited with PTI inputs