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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Kerala CM-link in smuggling case: Swapna made no such claim before NIA, agency also did not charge Vijayan’s former aide

“At least in our examination, no such thing has come forth. Swapna Suresh has not made any such claim to us. But we cannot comment on any other agency's probe,” sources said.

By: Express News Service | Kochi |
Updated: March 6, 2021 8:06:22 am
Swapna is lodged at a sub-jail in Thiruvananthapuram.

While the Customs has claimed that smuggling by Swapna Suresh was done at the behest of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, has not found any evidence to suggest the same.

Sources said Swapna, arrested by NIA in the gold smuggling case last October, was questioned at length.

“At least in our examination, no such thing has come forth. Swapna Suresh has not made any such claim to us. But we cannot comment on any other agency’s probe,” sources said.

In its chargesheet filed in January this year, the NIA also did not charge M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to the CM. Sivasankar’s name had come up in the case for his alleged links to Swapna and he was even arrested by the Enforcement Directorate.

The NIA had questioned Sivasankar in connection with the case last September. A month later, the ED arrested him for alleged money laundering. It also started a probe into several flagship government schemes which had been approved while Sivasankar was part of the CM’s office.

NIA sources had maintained that they had not found enough evidence to either arrest or charge Sivasankar in the gold smuggling case.

“The NIA investigation hitherto has revealed that the accused had knowingly conspired since June, 2019, raised funds and smuggled from UAE, between November, 2019 and June, 2020, around 167 Kgs of gold, through the import cargo addressed to diplomats at the Consulate General of UAE in Thiruvananthapuram. Significantly, the main accused in this case had also planned to smuggle more gold from countries like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia,” the NIA had said in the chargesheet filed against Swapna and 19 others.

The case pertains to the seizure of 30 kg gold, worth Rs 14.82 crore, on July 5, 2020 at the Air Cargo terminal of Trivandrum International Airport by the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Kochi, from a diplomatic baggage that had arrived from the UAE. The case was later transferred to the NIA.

It initially arrested Sarith PS, Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair even as it made trips to the UAE to investigate the case. Till date, the agency has arrested 21 people in the case.

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