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Customs issues notice to 53 people in Kerala gold smuggling case

M. Sivasankar. File  

The Customs probing the Kerala gold smuggling case has issued show-cause notices to 53 people, including prime accused Swapna Suresh, suspended IAS officer M. Sivasankar and two former diplomats in the UAE consulate, Thiruvananthapuram, official sources said here on Sunday.

The notices asking why action under the Customs Act should not be taken against them in the smuggling cases were issued by Customs (Preventive) Commissioner Sumit Kumar on June 16.

The case against them involves smuggling of a total of 167 kg of gold 23 times including the illegal trade of 30 kg gold worth nearly ₹15 crore that was seized by the Customs at the Thiruvananthapuram Airport from a diplomatic bag on July 5, 2020, the sources told PTI.

Former UAE Consulate General Jamal al-Zabi and Attach Rashid Khamis Ali were issued notice through the Union Finance Ministry, the sources said.

The Finance Ministry will forward the matter to the External Affairs Ministry as it is a matter involving foreign diplomats who have already left the country, they said.

Besides Ms. Suresh, six others who were served notices are currently detained under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA).

The key accused who were served notices included Sarith P.S., Sandeep Nair and K.T. Ramees, they said.

The show-cause notices were prepared based on the statements of the accused, the documents that were seized and other evidence collected during the probe.

They have been requested to inform if they desire to be heard in person before the case is adjudicated.

“All these people are given a time of 30 days for reply,” the sources said.

Separate probe

The National Investigation Agency, the Enforcement Directorate and the Customs conducted separate investigations into the racket that was busted with the seizure of gold worth ₹15 crore from the diplomatic baggage of the UAE Consulate at the Thiruvananthapuram airport.

Several people including Mr. Sivasankar, the former Principal Secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister; former employees of the UAE consulate, Ms. Suresh and Mr. Sarith, were arrested in connection with the case snowballing into a political controversy with the Opposition using it against the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government in the Kerala Assembly polls held in April this year.


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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 5:03:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/customs-issues-notice-to-53-people-in-kerala-gold-smuggling-case/article34874944.ece

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