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Kerala gold smuggling case: Customs says gold was converted into ornaments and sold

As many as 29 persons were named in the charge sheet including former Principal Secretary M Sivasankar who is the 29th accused. Former UAE consulate employee Sarith PS is the first accused.

Published: 22nd October 2021 02:11 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd October 2021 02:47 PM   |  A+A-

Former Principal Secretary M Sivasankar. (Photo | A Sanesh, EPS)

Former Principal Secretary M Sivasankar. (File Photo | A Sanesh, EPS)

By Express News Service

KOCHI: The Customs Department which probed the Thiruvananthapuram gold smuggling case in which the Kerala Chief Minister's Office was allegedly linked said on Friday that the smuggled gold was converted into ornaments and sold.  The Customs said this in the 3,000-page prosecution complaint (charge sheet) filed at the Ernakulam Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (Economic Offences) court.

The case pertains to the smuggling of 167 kg of gold on several occasions using diplomatic baggage.

As many as 29 persons were named in the charge sheet including former Principal Secretary M Sivasankar who is the 29th accused. Former UAE consulate employee Sarith PS is the first accused. Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair are also named as accused in the charge sheet. According to the Customs, KT Rameez was the mastermind behind the smuggling. The Customs has also arraigned Customs broker Godfrey Prathap and Emirates Sky Cargo in the accused list.

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The Customs stated in the charge sheet that the smuggled gold was converted into ornaments and sold in the market. The smuggled gold even reached jewellery shops in Hyderabad. The Customs claimed that it could identify all the jewellers who received the smuggled gold. However, further seizures could not be made as the smuggled gold was converted to ornaments. The Customs has not mentioned that the smuggled gold was used for funding terrorism activities. The NIA investigation had claimed that the smuggled gold was used for terror funding.

The Customs has approached the Ministry of External Affairs to decide on arraigning diplomats at the Thiruvananthapuram UAE Consulate including the former Consul General. Even though Swapna and Sarith had given a confession statement, the Customs did not make them approvers in the case.

It was in July last year that over 30 kg of gold was intercepted from diplomatic baggage at Thiruvananthapuram airport. The subsequent probe established that 167 kg of gold was smuggled on 15 occasions in 2019 and 2020. The National Investigation Agency (NIA), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax Department also conducted a probe into various aspects related to the gold smuggling.



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