Kerala gold smuggling case: Prime suspect files anticipatory bail plea1 min read . Updated: 09 Jul 2020, 05:33 PM IST
- Suresh claimed that she was directed to handle the baggage because of some delay in the arrival of the cargo, but the remand report filed by the customs department does not mention any such delay
ERNAKULAM: Prime suspect in Kerala's high-profile gold smuggling case Swapna Suresh, a former executive secretary at the United Arab Emirates (UAE) consulate, has moved the high court for an anticipatory bail. Suresh, who is absconding, has claimed innocence and alleged that she was directed to enquire about the seized cargo by an officer at the consulate.
A statement from the acting Consul General of the UAE, Rashid Khamis Al Sheimeili, to the customs department though had no mention about Suresh being directed to handle the cargo.
The department is reportedly probing if Suresh and Sarith, a former public relations officer who was taken into custody while trying to collect the cargo, acted in collusion to smuggle the gold using diplomatic channels.
Suresh claimed that she was directed to handle the baggage because of some delay in the arrival of the cargo, but the remand report filed by the customs department does not mention any such delay.
The customs department on Sunday had aborted a bid to smuggle 30 kg gold, worth around ₹15 crore, through diplomatic baggage system.
Mint could not immediately get a fresh comment from the UAE consulate. Condemning the incident, the consulate had earlier said it "firmly rejected such acts and unequivocally affirms that the mission and its diplomatic staff had no role in this matter".
The case kicked up a political storm in the state with the opposition parties alleging that Suresh enjoyed patronage from the ruling communist government. She was a contract staff at Price WaterhouseCoopers Ltd (PWC) and was terminated from the post after the smuggling case hit the headlines.
The state government on Tuesday removed M. Sivasankar, secretary to chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, from his post following allegations of his proximity to Suresh.
Vijayan, who is set to face election next year, had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday welcoming any central investigation into the case.
The Ministry of External Affairs and other central agencies have been reportedly kept in the loop regarding the investigation. It is a first such case in the country where a consignment of gold, moving through a diplomatic route, had been seized. Diplomatic agents have protection and immunity from the usual screening as per the Vienna Convention and Foreign Privileged Persons (Regulations of Customs Privileges) Rules, 1957.