Kerala

Government extended undue benefits to consulate staff: Customs

The Customs has blamed the State Government of extending undue benefits to the UAE Consul General and diplomats in violation of protocols, which they misused to cover up their illegal activities.

The State Government had provided Consul General Jamal Hussein Alzaabi, X Category protection though he faced no evident threats. The Consul General misused the facility to cover up all his illegal activities, including smuggling. The State Government issued diplomatic identity card to persons who were not holding diplomatic status, which was misused by them at airports and other places to shield their illegal activities, submitted the Customs in the final complaint in the diplomatic channel gold smuggling case. The final complaint was filed before the Economic Offences Court, Ernakulam, on Friday.

The statements of the officials of the State Protocol Department revealed that Ministers and senior Government officials had bypassed the department regarding the relations maintained by them with the UAE Consulate. The protocol officials were kept in the dark about such relations, the agency noted.

Ministers’ dealings

The investigation unearthed certain illegal dealings by State Ministers with the UAE Consulate regarding the illegal export of foreign currency, it noted.

Regarding the role of M. Sivasankar, the former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, in the gold smuggling, the Central agency said he was knowingly concerned about the misdeclaration and fraudulent evasion of customs duty. He had offered the unscrupulous elements an undue platform to misuse diplomatic immunity. He had also divulged an intelligence report on the smuggling activities to unscrupulous elements.

Close ties

He had maintained a close proximity with Swapna Suresh, the second accused and the Consul General. His contention that he was not aware of the gold smuggling through diplomatic channel through Air Cargo Complex, Thiruvananthapuram, did not appear to be correct and believable, it said.

Sivasankar had also deposed that Swapna had accompanied him during his official trips inside the country and abroad, which included his official trips to the UAE and Oman. He used to pay for Swapna’s trips as her trips were not official ones, the agency noted.


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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 10:40:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/govt-extended-undue-benefits-to-consulate-staff-customs/article37128737.ece

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