Kerala

Those in constitutional posts involved in dollar smuggling case, says Customs

Involvement of “persons holding constitutional posts in the State in the illegal export of foreign currency” has been revealed, according to Customs.

The revelation was made by outgoing Customs Commissioner Sumit Kumar in his notice issued to the accused in the dollar smuggling case last week. Notices were issued to Swapna Suresh, P.S. Sarith, and Sandeep Nair, also accused in the diplomatic channel gold smuggling case.

Khaled Mohamed Ali Shoukry, the former finance head of the UAE Consulate, Thiruvananthapuram; Santhosh Eapen of Unitac Builders; and M. Sivasankar, the former Principal Secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister, were also issued notice.

‘Serious allegations’

Swapna and Sarith, according to the notice, had “made some serious allegations that certain senior politicians in Kerala such as the then Chief Minster of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan and Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan had sent foreign currency to the UAE through Ahmed Al Doukhi, a diplomat of the Consulate general office and Consul General Jamal Al-Zabi respectively,” the notice said. “The allegations raised against the Chief Minister were examined in detail,” it said.

“As the revelations unearthed were in connection with past incidents,” according to the notice, “and also because the key persons involved in the smuggling could not be examined so far, the investigation in this regard is still under way and suitable action under relevant statutes will be initiated,” the notice said.

“Incriminating evidence of illegal export of foreign currency was unearthed against Jamal Al-Zabi and Shoukry. However, they could not be confronted with evidence as they were not available for examination in the country. Suitable action under the Customs Act and Foreign Exchange Conservation and Maintenance Act will be initiated against them,” the notice said.

The case

The case against the accused was that they smuggled out $1,90,000 without any general or specific permission from the Reserve Bank of India and in violation f the FEMA regulations and Customs Act.

The money was generated as kickback given by Mr. Eapen for bagging for his company, Unitac Builders, the contract for constructing houses under LIFE Mission, which was supported by Red Crescent of the UAE. Mr. Sivasankar had played a major role in abetting the Consul General and other diplomats in generating kickbacks from the LIFE Mission project by violating the norms of the Ministry of External Affairs, it said.


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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 10:26:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/those-in-constitutional-posts-involved-in-dollar-smuggling-case-says-customs/article35717900.ece

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