Swapna Suresh | Photo: Mathrubhumi
Kochi: Swapna Suresh, the prime accused in the gold smuggling case, on Monday, alleged that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan helped the UAE consulate in facilitating the escape of a UAE national.
On July 4, 2017, the UAE national was caught by the CISF Cochin airport authorities with a Thuraya satellite phone that is banned in India.
Swapna claimed that she got a call from the UAE Consulate officials to speak to the Chief Minister over the matter.
"On that day, I got a telephone call from the UAE Consulate officials (in the state capital city) asking me to speak to Vijayan on this case. So I called his secretary M. Sivasankar and informed him about it and he said, he will speak to Vijayan. In 5-10 minutes, I got a call from Sivasankar asking me to send an official to the police station to get a written affidavit. I was asked to give a similar affidavit to the Consulate and I did the same with the concern and consent from Shivasankar," said Swapna.
Swapna claimed that the police released the accused after he filed the affidavit and no further investigation occurred regarding this matter.
Swapna further claimed that the Egypt-born UAE national landed in Kerala on June 30th and Central Industrial Security Force caught him on July 4th. "The National Investigation Agency tampered with the pieces of evidence and even destroyed some of them," she added.
According to Swapna, "The CM supports every illegal terrorist activity for the sake of his daughter's interests."
"First, he said he doesn't know me, then he said he has seen me, and later, he said I came with the UAE Consulate officials here to his house. Please ask him to break his silence and speak about all that I have raised. I will in the coming days again come out with more revelations against the Chief Minister," said Swapna.
Suresh also took a dig at the media, saying, "the next time you meet Vijayan, how much he has misused his office."
On July 5, 2020, 30 kilograms of 24-carat gold worth Rs 14.82 crore was seized by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs at Thiruvananthapuram Airport from a diplomatic bag that was meant to be delivered to the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram. M Sivasankar, the principal secretary to Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, was suspended and removed from the post after a preliminary inquiry confirmed that he had links with Swapna Suresh, one of the accused in the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe.
On June 30, 2020, acting on an anonymous tip, the Customs officials at Trivandrum International Airport detained diplomatic baggage from Dubai on suspicion of smuggling. Since the bag came under diplomatic immunity, opening it without following procedures was not possible, especially since a call claiming to be from the secretary of the consulate general of the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram asked the Customs to release the baggage.
July 5, 2020, the bag was opened in the presence of a senior officer from the high commissioner's office in Delhi and the consulate official whose name was on the baggage, to reveal the smuggled gold which weighed around 30 kg. The gold was concealed in baggage consisting of bathroom equipment. Further investigation about the call led the initial inquiry to Swapna Suresh, an ex-UAE consulate employee and state IT, department consultant. The Indian officials said that it was the first time in history that such a large-scale smuggling attempt happened under the name of a foreign nation's diplomatic office.