The Customs on Monday sought extension of custody of suspended IAS officer M Sivasankar arrested by it in connection with the Kerala gold smuggling case. It filed a petition in the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (Economic Offences) court seeking seven-day extension of departmental custody of the accused.
The Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate claimed that key accused Swapna Suresh, during her custodial interrogation, has made revelations implicating Sivasankar in the currency smuggling case with strong links in the gold smuggling case. The agency submitted before the court a copy of the statement made by Suresh before the investigating officer under Section 108 of Customs Act on November 27.
The customs made the claim as the five-day custody of Sivasankar granted by the court ended on Monday. The court posted for Tuesday the application seeking extension of custody of Sivasankar.
Suresh and another accused in the gold smuggling case, Sarith PS, were also produced in the court as their five-day custody ended today. They were arrested in connection with allegedly assisting a former employee of the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram in smuggling USD 1,90,000 to Muscat from the capital city.
Considering a separate application from the Customs seeking seven more days extension of custody of both Suresh and Sarith, the court sent them to three more days custody. Earlier, the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, which is probing the gold smuggling case, claimed that former finance head of UAE consulate, Thiruvananthapuram, Khaled Mohamed Ali Shoukri, had taken out USD 1,90,000 (equivalent to Rs 1.30 crore) concealed in his handbag.
Shoukri, an Egyptian national, was accompanied by Suresh and Sarith till Oman during his travel from Thiruvananthapuram international airport by Oman Airways on August 7, 2019. In the application seeking custody of Sivasankar, the Customs said more investigation is required on two more mobile phones used by Sivasankar.
The agency said during the course of custodial interrogation of Sivasankar, he had stated, under section 108 of the Customs Act, that he was using only one mobile phone, which he had declared before the investigating agencies. But investigation revealed that he was using two more mobile phones, which he did not divulge before the agencies, the Customs said in the petition.
Out of the two phones, one number has been identified and retrieved by the investigating team on November 29 and it is being analysed, the petition said. Efforts are in progress to identify and recover the second mobile, the agency said seeking the continued custody of Sivasankar.
The customs said it was necessary to locate the second device and also to corroborate/confront evidence that may be recovered from both the devices. The customs effected the arrest of Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister, on November 24 in connection with the gold smuggling case.
The Customs has said it has arrested around 15 people, including Swapna Suresh, Sarith PS and Sandeep Nair, in connection with the seizure of 30 kg gold from a diplomatic baggage of UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram on July 5. The National Investigation Agency (NIA), the ED and the Customs are conducting separate investigations into the racket that was busted with the seizure of gold.
The IAS officer was suspended after his links to Suresh, a former employee of the consulate, surfaced..