Smuggling gold in diplomatic baggage was Swapna's idea: Sandeep

Smuggling gold in diplomatic baggage was Swapna's idea: Sandeep

Kochi: It was Swapna Suresh who came up with the plan to smuggle gold in diplomatic parcels arriving at the UAE Consulate and she won the confidence of KT Ramees with the idea, Sandeep Nair, one of the accused in the Trivandrum Airport gold smuggling case, has told the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in his statements. Both Swapna and Ramees are also accused in the case and are under arrest.

Sandeep said two ‘dummy’ parcels without gold were sent twice to verify Swapna’s claim that such parcels were absolutely safe.

Swapna said that the consul general of the UAE Consulate would be transferred by December 2019 and instructed Ramees to smuggle gold continuously before then. The conspiracy was hatched in May and June 2019, Sandeep told the ED.

Sandeep said he first smuggled gold for smuggler KT Ramees when he arrived in Dubai in 2014 on a visitor visa. He had smuggled 3.5 kg of gold during that visit.

Although Sandeep managed to get out of the Thiruvananthapuram airport without being apprehended, the ‘carrier’ who had accompanied him was caught. Sandeep was also charged in the case registered by the Customs Department on the basis of the statement given by the ‘carrier’.

PS Sarith, Swapna Suresh, Sandeep Nair
PS Sarith, Swapna Suresh, Sandeep Nair

This acquaintance with KT Ramees paved the way for the smuggling of gold through diplomatic parcels. Swapna came up with the diplomatic parcel plan when Ramees explored the possibility of smuggling gold through the green channel, Sandeep said.

Sandeep reiterated the statement of P S Sarith, another accused in the gold smuggling case, that former principal secretary to the Chief Minister M Sivasankar was aware that Swapna was accused in a criminal case for filing a false harassment complaint against an Air India SATS official.

In his statement, Sandeep also said that Unitac MD Santosh Eapen had offered 5 per cent commission to get the construction contract for the Wadakkanchery Life Mission housing project and that Unitac had made three payments totalling Rs 45 lakh.

3 accused in NIA custody 

Swapna Suresh, M Sivasankar
Swapna Suresh, M Sivasankar

Kochi: The NIA has got the custody until Friday of three people accused in the diplomatic baggage gold smuggling case that is alleged to have terror links, for conducting a detailed investigation into the travels of those connected with the case to Tanzania and the UAE. 

KT Ramees, PS Sarith and A M Jalal are the three who have been taken into custody.

Meanwhile, the Customs Department has obtained permission from the Economic Offences Court to record the arrest of Sarith and Swapna Suresh in a case of smuggling dollars abroad.

Sivasankar knew about Swapna's bank transaction: ED

Kochi: According to the ED, the chartered accountant friend of Sivasankar has said in his statement that he had kept the suspended bureaucrat informed about the deposits and withdrawal of money in Swapna Suresh's bank locker.

When he was asked about this, Sivasankar evaded the question and said that he had not instructed the chartered accountant to open a bank locker in the name of Swapna, the ED said. The agency, however, claimed that WhatsApp messages contradict his statement.

According to an explanation given by the ED in the High Court, Sivasankar was an active participant in the various activities of a person accused in the gold smuggling case. Giving him anticipatory bail for economic offences could hamper its investigations, the ED said.

An investigation is needed into some serious financial crimes to which Sivasankar is believed to have had links, the ED said. It also said that the facts found so far in the case would be submitted to the court in a sealed envelope.

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