Accused names chief minister in gold-smuggling case

Swapna Suresh, the prime accused in the case related to gold smuggling through diplomatic channels, on Tuesday made serious allegations against Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan (left), his wife and daughter, and senior government officers.

The allegations have triggered demands from the opposition for Mr Vijayan's resignation.

Although Swapna had spoken publicly about the case and against the chief minister's ex-principal secretary M. Sivasankar earlier, this is the first time that she is making allegations against Mr Vijayan.

"I have already given 164 statements in court about a threat to my life. I have declared in court about all the people involved in this case. I have also filed a petition in court to seek protection. They are considering it," she said.

"I have declared in the court about the involvement of M. Sivasankar, the chief minister, his wife Kamala, his daughter Veena, his secretary C.M. Raveendran, former chief secretary Nalini Netto and former minister K.T. Jaleel in the gold smuggling case."

Swapna claimed that a bag containing foreign currency was sent to Mr Vijayan when he was in Dubai in 2016.

"At that time, I was the secretary at the (UAE) consulate (Kerala's capital Thiruvannanthapuram) and Sivasankar told me that the CM had forgotten a bag and it had to be delivered to Dubai immediately.

"When the bag was brought in, we realised that it contained foreign currency. We followed the instructions of Mr Sivasankar and a diplomat from the UAE consulate was sent to Dubai with the bag, at the direction of the consul general.

"Also, there were times very heavy vessels of biryani were moved. this means there was more than just biryani in them but also some sort of metal objects. The vessels were sent in consulate vehicles to Cliff House (Mr Vijayan's residence) by consul general as per Sivasankar's instructions."

The case of the smuggling of gold into Kerala through diplomatic channels was exposed after 30kg gold worth Rs14.82 crore smuggled in a consignment camouflaged as diplomatic baggage was seized by the customs department in Thiruvananthapuram on July 5, 2019.

Swapna was released last November after spending 16 months behind bars.

The case is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate, National Investigation Agency and customs department.

Indo-Asian News Service


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