Customs set to book Sivasankar for dollar smuggling too

PTI24-12-2020_000060A
HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Enforcement Directorate has also started an investigation into the dollar smuggling case.
  • Customs officials found that diplomatic ID card helped Khalid pass through airports without any checks.

Thiruvananthapuram: The Customs has initiated moves to make M Sivasankar, the former principal secretary to the Kerala chief minister, an accused in the dollar smuggling case, too.

At present, the ones named by the Customs Department in the dollar smuggling case are Swapna Suresh, PS Sarith and Khalid Ali Shoukri, who is an Egyptian citizen and the former head of the finance department at the UAE Consulate in the Kerala capital. They are also among the 20-odd accused in the gold smuggling case which is being investigated by several central agencies.

The Customs decided to name Sivasankar, who is also as an accused in the gold smuggling case, on the basis of the statements given by Swapna and Sarith, the latter being one of the few approvers named by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Dubai-based educationist questioned

One Dr Kiran, who works in the education sector in Dubai, was summoned by the Customs and questioned in connection with the case.

According to statements made by Swapna and Sarith, some high-ranking officials in Kerala had smuggled dollars to invest in the education sector in Sharjah and that the money was received in Dubai by Kiran and another person named Lafir Mohammad.

During interrogations, the Customs also learnt that Sivasankar had introduced Kiran, who had earlier worked in the IT Mission of the state government, to high-ranking officials, including Kerala Legislative Assembly Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also started an investigation into the dollar smuggling case. The ED has also collected details of the activities of Dr Kiran and Lafir Mohammed in Dubai and their overseas travel records.

Inquiry against protocol dept

The Customs is investigating how the Egyptian Khalid Ali Shoukri obtained the ID card that is issued by the state protocol department to diplomats, despite not having the status of a diplomat.

The external affairs department will also carry out an investigation on the basis of the report submitted by the Customs.

Customs officials have found that the diplomatic ID card helped Khalid pass through airports without any checks.

The state protocol department, however, has claimed that Khalid was issued an ID card that stated he was only an 'official' and not a diplomat. It claimed that the card was issued in accordance with the rules of the external affairs department.

It is the UAE Consulate that informs the state protocol department about the positions and the people that are eligible for the 'diplomatic' ID card. The Customs is investigating how and on whose recommendation the protocol department issued the card to Khalid. It suspects Swapna likely intervened on behalf of Khalid.

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