Kochi: The Customs investigation team said that all the top officials at the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram smuggled dollars in large amounts.
Customs officials found that consul general Jamal Hussain Al Sabi, admin attaché Rashid Khamis Al Sheimeili and finance department chief Khalid Mohammed Ali Shoukri smuggled large amounts of foreign currency. A preliminary report in this regard has been submitted at the special court for economic offences here.
Customs stated that Swapna Suresh and P. S. Sarith aided in smuggling the foreign currency and that both violated the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). The Customs also registered their arrest in the dollar smuggling case.
The Customs registered the dollar smuggling case based on Swapna’s statement in the gold smuggling case on July 31. While interrogating Swapna and Sarith on October 10 and 14, the Customs realised that the UAE consulate was the centre of large-scale smuggling of dollars. Swapna has also given statements against some of the consulate employees.
Swapna stated that Khalid, finance department chief at the consulate, had smuggled 1.90 lakh US dollar to Cairo in Egypt through Oman by hiding the foreign currency in hand baggage. Swapna and Sarith travelled to Oman with Khalid. From there, Khalid went to Cairo while Swapna and Sarith went to Dubai.
The duo travelled with the consulate official to avoid problems at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport. Customs checked their travel details and found them to be true.
Swapna stated that she saw Khalid scanning the hand baggage carrying the smuggled currency at the x-ray machine at the UAE consulate. This was to check if the currency notes will be detected by CISF at the airport. Sarith has also given a similar statement. Swapna stated that consul general Al Sabi and attaché Rashid smuggled foreign currency in similar fashion.
Sarith used to accommodate the consulate officials to prevent them from being detected in the security checks at the airport. Using his contacts with the airport employees and citing diplomatic privileges, Sarith would ensure that the consulate officials did not have to undergo checks. None of the consulate officials have been named accused in the case.