Swapna, Sarith may face reprisals from smuggling racket: Customs

Kochi: The ongoing probe into the diplomatic gold smuggling unearthed by the Customs pointed to the machinations of a well-entrenched racket with influence in the Middle East and parts of India. The key accused Swapna Suresh and P S Sarith who are now behind bars have reportedly disclosed vital information that could upset other significant members of the gang and result in reprisals.

The Customs has told the Economic Offences Court that the revelations made by Swapna and Sarith in their confidential statements could even pose a threat to their lives.

Based on the latest revelations by the duo, they need to be questioned along with M Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to the Kerala chief minister. The trio could not be questioned together until now for various reasons. This questioning is crucial to find out the evidence and the role of other accused in the crime.

Foreigners also had direct involvement in the crime that has a direct impact on the financial security of the country. The magistrate court recorded the confidential statements of the accused in this regard on Thursday.

The Customs also said that there was a link between gold smuggling and currency smuggling blamed on the racket. The court will record the accused’s confidential statements in the currency smuggling case on December 7.

As the custody period of both the accused ended on Thursday, the Customs submitted another plea and it was granted by the Economic Offences Court.

Swapna and Sarith will continue to be in Customs’ custody till December 8.

Meanwhile, advocate Joe Paul, who had appeared for Swapna Suresh till now, stepped down as her defence counsel on Thursday.

Sivasankar likely lying

The Customs investigators now suspect that Sivasankar is yet to divulge critical information and could even be lying.

Sources say though he was given the opportunity to cooperate with the probe, Sivasankar kept reiterating only lies to the investigation team.

The arrested bureaucrat even lied about the number of mobile phones he used. He only revealed details of two phones to the investigation team, but concealed information about two other phones. These two phones were handed over to the probe team by his wife, the Customs apprised the Economic Offences Court.

In the counter-affidavit filed against Sivasankar's bail plea, the Customs stated he would not desist from destroying evidence using his influence if he is granted bail and thus lead to the scuttling of the probe.

ED to seek info on Raveendran's assets

Ahead of questioning C M Raveendran, additional chief secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has begun efforts to collect details about his assets and that of his relatives. An official communication will be made to the state registration department, seeking the information.

Raveendran is being questioned in connection with the gold smuggling case. He is reportedly close to Sivasankar and was privy to the goings-on in the chief minister's office.

The ED had earlier made similar efforts to trace the assets of Bineesh Kodiyeri, the son of CPM leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, as part of the investigation into the alleged money-laundering deals linked to the Bengaluru drug case.

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