Gold smuggling: Pinarayi's meeting with UAE Consul General breached protocol, says Customs

Pinarayi Vijayan
Pinarayi Vijayan. Photo: IANS

Thiruvananthapuram: The Customs, which is probing the gold smuggling case in Kerala, has alleged serious breach of protocols in meetings of the UAE Consul General and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

There is also a reference that their investigations have unearthed illegal dealings of some state ministers with the UAE Consulate, as per the show cause notice to top former UAE officials working at the UAE Consulate, including the Consul General, the Attache, and the Chief Accountant.

The Customs claims that there were serious breach of protocols in meetings organised by the Consul General through gold smuggling prime accused Swapna Suresh, and suspended IAS officer and former top Pinarayi aide, M. Sivasankar, with the CM at the residences of both.

Incidentally such meetings had bypassed the state protocols and also the Ministry of External Affairs, says the note of the Customs.

According to sources, the Customs is getting ready to file its complete charge sheet in the gold smuggling case shortly and the show cause notices are part of it.

Soon after the gold smuggling case broke out, the three top officials in the UAE Consulate, now in the dock, had left the country.

On Sunday, the Customs department had issued show-cause notices to 53 people including prime accused Swapna Suresh, suspended IAS officer M Sivasankar and two former diplomats in the UAE consulate, Thiruvananthapuram.

Former UAE Consulate General Jamal al-Zabi and Attach Rashid Khamis Ali were issued notice through the Union Finance Ministry.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), the ED and the Customs conducted separate investigations into the racket that was busted with the seizure of gold worth Rs 15 crore from the diplomatic baggage of the UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5.

Several people including Sivasankar, the former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, former employees of the UAE consulate, Suresh and Sarith, were arrested in connection with the case snowballing a political controversy with the opposition using it against the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government in the Assembly polls held in April this year.

(With inputs from IANS and PTI)

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