Kochi: The Customs Department has found that some people’s representatives and senior IAS and IPS officers in the state travelled abroad without following the rules. The department’s investigations into the gold smuggling case and the dates import case revealed widespread violations of foreign travel rules.
Top officials and people's representatives have also made official trips without the permission of the central government. Some high-ranking officials travelled on official business without official passports. Although the travels were said to have been official, there is no record to show that the travel expenses were borne by either the Centre or the state.
The investigation team collected the travel details from the Customs and immigration departments at airports.
The Customs Department looked into the foreign trips of senior officials and people’s representatives as part of its investigation into the foreign travels of suspended bureaucrat M Sivasankar along with Swapna Suresh, one of the main accused in the gold smuggling case. It recorded the statements of about 80 people as part of the inquiry.
Some of them in their statements said that the foreign currencies and Indian rupees that they carried while travelling abroad were much more than the permissible limits. They did not seek permission for carrying the extra currency by informing about it at airports. There is also no proof to show how much foreign currencies and Indian rupees they had in their hands after returning from such trips.
It is also not known how much they spent on such travels, besides accommodation and shopping abroad, and who paid for those expenses.
Many received freebies and gifts. This is a violation of the provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), the Customs Department said. It believes that the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) regulations were also violated.