Kochi | A massive manhunt has been launched to nab a key aide of Dubai-based Irish businessman Andrew Edwin Minihan, who was arrested at the international airport here in July for allegedly trying to smuggle 10 kg of gold worth about Rs 2.50 crore.
Special Intelligence and Investigation Branch of Customs in Kochi today announced a Rs 10,000 cash reward for those providing information about Nibu Mathew Varghese, who left Kochi on July 13, the day 42-year-old Minihan was arrested by the Customs Air Intelligence unit at the airport. Minihan, who arrived by an Emirates flight here from Dubai, was allegedly found carrying 10 bars of gold, concealed in his jacket.
Customs officials said Varghese, who was punished by a local court here for his alleged involvement in a ragging case during his college days, had left for Bangalore in his car on the day Minihan was arrested. Sensing that investigating agencies are after him, he had left his hideout in Bangalore arranged by friends.
But his car, which was allegedly used for smuggling gold, was seized. Varghese, a native of Ernakulam, who had shifted his hideout to Mysore, was arrested and put behind bars along with his friend–a red sandal smuggler– by Karnataka Crime Branch.
He, however, secured bail and managed to escape by the time Customs officials went there to nab him.
Meanwhile, Customs officials are questioning a Malayali lady and some others who allegedly arranged hideouts for Varghese in Bangalore and Mysore, the officials said.
Minihan, who is in jail here, is suspected to be a ‘carrier’ linked to a gold smuggling racket allegedly operating between Kerala and the Middle East, Customs officials have said after preliminary investigation.
He had visited Kochi more than 10 times before his arrest in July, they said.
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