Dollar smuggling: Customs to question Kerala Speaker after assembly session

Sreeramakrishnan is a former president of the SFI. File

The Customs department is all set to question Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan in connection with the dollar smuggling case, after the conclusion of the current assembly session.

Even though the Customs had received legal opinion to go ahead with the questioning of the Speaker, the department decided to hold on till the culmination of the budget session of the assembly. The Customs officers in the state are believed to have received intimation in this regard from Delhi.

The two Dubai-based Malayalees who figured in the statements given by gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh and P S Sarith in connection with the dollar smuggling case, would be questioned by the Customs next week. Lafir Mohammad and Kiran who belong to Malappuram district would be summoned from Dubai for questioning. As per Swpana and Sartith's statements, the duo had received the dollars sent to Dubai by the higher-ups in the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.

During the course of the probe, the Customs found that the two persons were middlemen for investments in the education sector in Dubai and in various other industrial ventures. They were asked to come to Kerala for questioning through the ministry of foreign affairs.

The Ccustoms have also obtained the statements given by Swapna and Sarith before the court. It has decided to record the statements of all higher-ups whose names figure in these statements. The details of these people have been passed on to the Customs Board in New Delhi. The follow-up action would be initiated after getting the nod from the Board.

Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also gathered the details of the dollar smuggling case investigated by the customs. It is learnt that besides Customs, the ED will also question the Speaker.

No legal hurdle in questioning Speaker

Kochi: The assistant solicitor general P Vijaykumar has given the go ahead to question Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan as per the Customs Act. He has pointed out that there are no legal obstacles in questioning the Speaker. It is understood that an email has been sent to the Customs preventive commissioner advising the department to avoid questioning the Speaker in the midst of the assembly session. This is being done as a mark of respect for the House.

The Speaker's assistant private secretary was grilled by customs for more than nine hours in Kochi, the other day.

The case pertains to smuggling of 1.90 lakh US dollars carried out by UAE consulate’s former finance department head Khalid Ali Shoukri with the help of gold smuggling case accused Swapna and Sarith. The customs had registered the dollar smuggling case in connection with the gold smuggling probe.


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