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Kerala Gold smuggling case: ‘Consulate official back in UAE’

The cargo, which contained 30 kg of gold, was addressed to Consul Charge D Affairs Rashid Khamis Al Sheimeili. He has been acting as Consul-General since April this year after the incumbent returned to the UAE amid the pandemic.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | July 17, 2020 1:43:08 am
Second accused Swapna Suresh (left) and fourth accused Sandeep Nair (right) detained by NIA in Bengaluru.

Even as the Customs probe into the gold seized in cargo addressed to the UAE Consulate here has entered a crucial stage, the Consul Charge D Affairs of the Consulate has left the country, Customs sources said.

The cargo, which contained 30 kg of gold, was addressed to Consul Charge D Affairs Rashid Khamis Al Sheimeili. He has been acting as Consul-General since April this year after the incumbent returned to the UAE amid the pandemic.

Sheimeilli left for Delhi from the state capital on Sunday and then flew to the UAE. He left at a time Customs has approached the External Affairs Ministry to record his statement, sources said.

Responding to questions, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said on Thursday, “We are in touch with the UAE authorities, and we are in touch with them regarding the investigation of this matter.”

Customs had on July 5 seized gold worth Rs 15 crore. Subsequently, former Consulate PRO Sarith PS, former executive secretary Swapna Suresh, their friend Sandeep Nair and Faisal Fareed of the UAE, who allegedly sent the contraband, were named as the accused.

Suresh, who had earlier stated that she used to work with the Consulate “on request basis”, had said she intervened in getting the cargo cleared at the behest of the acting Consul-General. It was also revealed that on the day Customs seized the gold, Suresh got three calls from the Consul Charge D Affairs. The calls were made after the contraband was seized.

Customs sources said that Rameez K T, who is suspected to be a major link between Nair and persons who invest in smuggling, has confessed about the role of an Arab national. “He has given a statement that a share of the money from the smuggling used to go to an Arab national. We have to ascertain who that person was,” sources said.

Rameez was nabbed based on Nair’s statement.  —With inputs from ENS New Delhi

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