Amid the Kerala gold smuggling fiasco, now, Embassy of the UAE has issued a statement admitting that "former locally hired employee of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram was responsible for this act."
The statement reads, "The Embassy of the UAE in India utterly condemns the attempted misuse of diplomatic channels by an individual engaged in smuggling activity. The Embassy firmly rejects such acts and unequivocally affirms that the mission and its diplomatic staff had no role in this matter."
The Embassy further went on to add that a former employee was responsible for the act. "Initial inquiries conducted by the mission revealed that a former locally hired employee of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram was responsible for this act. The employee in question was fired for misconduct long preceding this incident. At this time, it appears that this individual exploited his knowledge of the mission's channels to engage in criminal activity," the Embassy revealed.
Now, the UAE looks forward to fully cooperating with Indian customs authorities to thoroughly investigate this matter and urges stringent legal action against those involved, said the Embassy.
Earlier, on Sunday, customs officers at Thiruvananthapuram international airport seized 30 kg gold worth Rs 15 crore from a consignment meant for the Consulate of the United Arab Emirates in the city. The main accused, a woman identified as Swapna Suresh, is currently absconding after calls for her arrest.
While Swapna Suresh has been sacked, the opposition has targeted the Kerala Chief Minister’s Office. This is because the IT Department where Swapna was working was directly under the purview of the Kerala Chief Minister’s Office.
According to a report in The News Minute, another person, identified as Sarith Nair, also involved in the scandal, was an employee of the consulate. The report added that Nair, a former Public Relations Officer at the consulate, used a fake identity card to collect the bag that had the smuggled gold. While Sarith was arrested, according to an Indian Express report, information about Swapna’s role as the kingpin came during interrogation
Leader of Opposition in Kerala, Ramesh Chinnithala, on Tuesday said that it was ‘startling to know that a former lady employee of the UAE consulate had managed to get a job in Space Park, an institution under the Information Technology department, despite having a dubious record that involves a detailed investigation.’
The case Chinnithala refers to was when Swapna Suresh worked as a HR manager with Air India SATS Airport Service before her stint with the UAE Consulate. During this time, she had a criminal case registered against her after fabricating a false case against an Air India staffer. It was during this time she was employed by the Kerala State IT Department through PricewaterhouseCooper.
Vijayan, however, says that he wasn’t aware of Swapna Suresh’s recruitment and rubbished his role in the case, saying that the allegations were baseless.