A senior Kerala bureaucrat, who was last week sacked as the principal secretary of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, was on Tuesday summoned by the Customs Department in connection with a case involving gold smuggling through diplomatic routes, PTI reported.
The Customs Department in Kochi is probing allegations that M Sivasankar had used his position to help the main suspects in the case. At a press conference later in the day, Vijayan said that the top officer had had a phone conversation with the accused. “Based on the new finding, a panel headed by the chief secretary will initiate a probe,” the Kerala chief minister was quoted as saying by ANI. “Once it [the panel] submits the report, the government will take appropriate action.”
On July 5, gold weighing 30 kgs concealed in imported plumbing material was seized by the Customs officials upon inspection of an air cargo consignment addressed to the Consular General of the United Arab Emirates in Thiruvananthapuram district. Officials valued the gold at Rs 15 crore.
Swapna Suresh, Sandeep Nair, Sarith and Fazil Fareed are three key suspects in the case. Suresh and Sarith worked at the Consular General of the United Arab Emirates in Thiruvananthapuram until six months ago. Call records have shown that the accused been in contact with Sivasankar and Kerala Higher Education Minister KT Jaleel, NDTV reported. Sarith also called Sivasankar numerous times over the last three months.
Last week, the National Investigation Agency, which is probing the case, had detained Suresh and Nair. The investigative agency also filed a first information report against the accused in the case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
On Tuesday, a special court in Kerala granted NIA the permission to take up the case with the Interpol and issue a blue corner notice to arrest Dubai-based Fareed, according to The News Minute.