KOCHI: Two Customs officers were removed from the team probing the Kerala gold smuggling case after the statement of key accused Swapna Suresh regarding the involvement of journalist Anil Nambiar got leaked. N S Dev, assistant commissioner who was supervising the gold smuggling case, and a superintendent-ranked officer, were removed from the case temporarily after some portions of Swapna’s statement to the Customs surfaced in the media last week. Sources said an inquiry has been ordered against Dev and the superintendent-ranked officer on the leak.
In the statement leaked to the media, Anil Nambiar was quoted as asking Swapna to tell the UAE Consulate to claim that the baggage containing 30kg gold seized at the Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5 was “personal” and not “diplomatic cargo”. This is the second time officers were removed from the probe team in the gold smuggling case. In July end, Aneesh Rajan, joint commissioner, was transferred to Nagpur after he told the media that no one from the Chief Minister’s Office had called the Customs to release the said baggage. Opposition parties had then alleged that Aneesh was a CPM supporter.
Dev, the removed officer, was in charge of the Customs Commissionerate (Preventive) Headquarters, Kochi, and was supervising the gold smuggling probe. “There is no evidence that Dev had leaked the statement. However, he is being distanced from the probe owing to the allegations,” said the source.