An ED source said Ali might have sent the money he earned from selling the antiques to his Swiss account.
Sources said Ali admitted to the theft during interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate officials here. The ED is investigating a case of money laundering against Ali who is suspected to have $8 billion in his Swiss bank accounts.
Sources said Ali sent these antiques abroad but their value is yet to be established, a senior official said. The ED wrote to the Hyderabad police asking them to investigate Ali’s admission to antique theft. The central crime station in Hyderabad investigated and registered the case, an official said.
Ali is believed to have smuggled the antiques abroad between the late 1990s and early 2000, sources said. Officials said that Ali met one Hassan Suleman Baig in Hyderabad who claimed to have the power of attorney for the famous jewellery of the Nizam. The rights were later transferred to Ali who sold some jewellery to Singapore-based businessmen. “From Hyderabad he shifted to Pune and got involved in betting on horses. For the last 25 years, he was into money laundering. Investigations are on,” an official said.
“The antiques were kept in Salar Jung Museum and could not have been stolen without the help of some people who had access. This is under investigation,” an official said. The police have also registered a case under the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972, meant to prevent smuggling of artefacts.
Ali in the past had claimed that he was related to the Nizam. Fath Jang Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan Asaf Jah VII, the last Nizam of the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad and Berar was said to be the richest person in the 1940s, having wealth of around $2 billion. He ruled Hyderabad between 1911 and 1948 until it was made part of India by the government.