Gold, dollar scam probe a damp squib on first anniversary

Gold, dollar scam probe a damp squib on first anniversary

K RaveendranUpdated: Monday, July 05, 2021, 01:20 AM IST
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Swapna Suresh and Pinarayi Vijayan |

Thiruvananthapuram

The sensational case of gold smuggling through diplomatic channel, which at one stage pitted the Kerala and the central governments on the path of confrontation, marks one year on Monday, but the investigations have reached nowhere.

Customs launched its probes on July 5 last year after it was discovered a packet meant for the UAE consulate here contained contraband gold, which was duly seized by the department.

New angles emerged during the investigations saw 3 central agencies launch their own probes — the NIA, in search of terrorist angle, ED, looking for clues to money laundering and CBI, probing corruption in a housing project launched with financial help from the UAE.

The gold packet was intercepted on a tip-off to the Customs, but Swapna Suresh, a former staffer of the UAE consulate, along with Sarith, a consulate employee, used their high-level connections to get the gold released.

It was revealed those who exerted pressure for the release of the contraband included M Sivasankar, the high-profile principal secretary of the chief minister, subsequently removed from his positions. But the agencies failed to prove a phone call had gone out from the chief minister’s office for the release of the seized packet.

Swapna Suresh, the kingpin behind the gold smuggling, was found to be closely associated with state government projects and had secured appointment to a key post in IT dept under the CM, with a high pay and perks, though she was not even a graduate. M Sivasankar was quizzed by various agencies several times and was arrested and spent months in prison, before he was granted bail in all the cases.

The summoning of the then higher education minister KT Jaleel by NIA sent shockwaves in political circles. The quizzing of CR Ra­v­e­endran, the additional private secretary of CM, and submitting of documents to courts put CM Pinarayi Vijayan on the defensive. But the agencies fumbled when the courts asked for credible proof of the role of political leadership and CMO. They could not incriminate Siva­sa­nkar based on the credible proof.

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