Gold smuggling case: NIA to question UAE Consulate officials

Gold smuggling case: NIA to question UAE Consulate officials
One of the accused in Trivandrum airport gold smuggling case Sandeep Nair in NIA custody. File photo

Kochi: The National Investigation Agency is preparing to question the officials of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram in connection with the diplomatic parcel-gold smuggling cases.

The investigation team has informed the court about this in its application to get the remand period of the 16 accused in the case extended.

The role of high-ranking officials inside and outside the country and those of the Consulate employees is yet to be ascertained. There was a deep conspiracy behind the crime, the central agency said.

According to the report submitted by the investigating officer DySP C Radhakrishna Pillai, the property and money acquired by the accused through gold smuggling may have been used for anti-national activities.

The accused will be questioned again based on the evidence found from the digital devices they used, the NIA said. The accused should not be granted bail in such a situation, it said.

The conspiracies in the gold smuggling racket were hatched in Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Malappuram and even abroad. The suspects smuggled large quantities of gold during the lockdown period with the aim of undermining the financial stability of the country, the NIA said.

Gold smuggling case: NIA to question UAE Consulate officials
P S Sarath, Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair. File photo

The remand of P S Sarith, Swapna Suresh, K T Ramees, AM Jalal, Syed Alavi, PT Abdu, Mohammad Ali, K T Sharfuddin, Mohammad Shafiq, Hamsat Abdusalam, TN Sanju and Hamjad Ali have been extended till October 10, while CV Jifsal, P Aboobacker, Mohammad Abdu Shameem and PM Abdul Hameed have been remanded till October 8.

All the accused except Swapna were produced in court on Friday.

Sivasankar to be questioned again

The NIA will again question M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to the chief minister, on the basis of the digital evidence obtained from the mobile phones of the accused, including Swapna Suresh, in the gold smuggling case.

Gold smuggling case: NIA to question UAE Consulate officials
M Sivasankar

The agency will question him soon focusing on some crucial information it has obtained after recovering deleted WhatsApp chats from Swapna Suresh’s phone.

The NIA is also analysing messages of a minister said to be close to Swapna.

The agency has also got evidence against a woman employee who had resigned from the accounts section of the UAE Consulate in May 2019. It was after she resigned that Khalid, an Egyptian citizen who was an accountant at the consulate, was expelled for financial irregularities.

The UAE has instructed the consulate not to employ the two again and to put their names on the list of banned people.

It has been found that even after moving to Kochi, the woman accountant had gone to the consulate and carried out many activities. The investigation team has obtained information that she was aware of the irregularities committed by Swapna Suresh and her gang.

Pictures showing minister's son morphed: Kodiyeri

Meanwhile, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has said that the pictures showing Swapna Suresh with the son of a minister were morphed.

"What all things are getting morphed and being spreading now. What if this happens to you too?" Kodiyeri asked reporters. "Everyone is human. We can bear it, but you will not be able to."

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