Updated: July 11, 2020 8:03:41 am
After a case of 30 kilogram of gold smuggling from a diplomatic cargo addressed to the UAE Consulate-General Office in Thiruvananthapuram came to light last week, Swapna Suresh, a former executive secretary at the UAE Consulate-General’s office emerged as a prime suspect for her role in forging Consulate documents to illicitly enjoy diplomatic immunity for gold smuggled from the Gulf.
Suresh went into hiding a day before the Customs decided to open the diplomatic cargo. She is now under scrutiny.
Suresh’s alleged role in the gold smuggling racket and her connections to former principal secretary M Sivasankar, under whom she worked as a contract staff with the state government’s flagship Space Park project, has now snowballed into a major controversy in Kerala.
Suresh, who is currently on the run, filed an application for anticipatory bail before the Kerala High Court on Thursday. In her petition, she claimed she was being falsely implicated in the case and that she had contacted the Customs officer at the airport on the directions of Rashid Khamis Al Shameli, who holds acting charge of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, regarding the delay in his consignment.
So, who is Swapna Suresh?
In 2013, Suresh, a resident of Dubai, joined as an HR executive with Air India SATS, an airport service firm in Thiruvananthapuram. At the firm, she allegedly conspired with another senior executive at the firm to frame an airport staff in a sexual harassment case by forging signatures of women employees. According to reports, Suresh had prepared as many as 17 complaints, in bogus names, against the person, who later complained to the state police seeking a probe into the conspiracy. Suresh was listed as an accused, but the probe was derailed, allegedly because of her influence.
In 2016, she joined the UAE Consulate-General Office when it opened in the state capital, with her exposure to the emirates and fluency in Arabic standing her in good stead. As the Kerala government maintains a good rapport with UAE, home to lakhs of expats from Kerala, the local staff of the Consulate rose into prominence.
Suresh moved in social, bureaucratic and political circles, at times even projecting herself as a diplomat. However, a year ago, she was sacked from the Consulate General’s office due to the criminal case against her. Thereafter, Suresh managed to land a job as a business development manager with Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL) with senior IAS officer and IT secretary M Sivasankar as its chairman. Sivasankar was then Chief Minister’s Principal Secretary, a key post in the CMO.
After the smuggling scandal broke out, it was revealed that Sivasankar had recommended Suresh’s name through transnational consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers for the post of manager at KSITIL. While KSITIL officials claimed Suresh, a graduate, was qualified for the job, her brother living abroad told the media she hadn’t even completed the state school board exam. One of her former colleagues at a travel agency also doubted about her qualification, saying she had completed only Class XII.
Suresh is currently living with her family consisting of her husband and two children, the younger son is studying in third standard and the elder daughter is studying for the second year degree course.
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