From ex-PS to CM to minister’s call records: Kerala Gold Smuggling case gets murkier
New Delhi, July 16: As the investigations progress into the Kerala Gold Smuggling case, the trouble for the Kerala government appear to be increasing.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Customs are both probing the exact nature of the role played by M Shivasankar, who was recently removed as principal secretary to the Chief Minister.
Now, the probe is focused around the lengthy calls made by Minister, K T Jaleel to Swapna Suresh, who is the second accused in the case. We are looking into it an NIA source told OneIndia.
Several television channels aired the calls between Jaleel and Swapna. It was said that several calls were made between May and June and the report also added that Jaleell's two personal staff members were also in touch with Swapna.
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Jaleel, however, clarified that he only spoke about official matters as per the directive of the Consul-General. I was told the Ramzan food kits were ready for distribution. I was asked to contact Swapna as per the directions of the Consul-General and the conversation was purely official. I was not aware that she was a consulate staffer, he also clarified.
The NIA is also closely looking at the role allegedly played by Sivasankar. It is alleged that he was in touch with Sarith P S, the first accused in the case. It was also found that he was also in touch with Sandeep Nair, another accused in the case. They met regularly at a flat near the state secretariat, which was taken on rent by Sivasankar.
Swapna and Sarith worked with the UAE Consulate as executive secretary and PRO respectively. However, Swapna lost her job at the consulate after which at the behest of Sivasankar, she was absorbed with an entity under the State IT Department. At that time, Sivasankar was the IT secretary.
As part of the investigation, multiple raids have been carried out. Raids were carried out at the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited, which falls under the IT Department. The raid lasted for more than an hour at the KSITL, where key accused Swapna Suresh used to work.
A raid was carried out by the Customs as well at the flat where Sivasankar, used to reside. The Customs suspects that the plan pertaining to the smuggling was hatched in this flat. It may be recalled that the Customs had questioned Sivasankar for nearly 9 hours at the Customs House.
On Friday, the NIA took over the investigation of the case. The case has been registered under sections 16, 17 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, against 04 accused persons including Swapna Prabha Suresh
The case relates to the seizure of 30 kg of 24 carat gold worth Rs.14.82 crores at Trivandrum International Airport
The aforesaid consignment was found camouflaged in diplomatic baggage from UAE that is exempted from inspection as per the Vienna Convention. The said consignment was to be received by Sarith P S who had worked in the UAE Consulate earlier as Public Relations Officer. Initial investigation by Customs Department has revealed that Sarith had received multiple such consignments earlier as well.