The Customs probing the Kerala gold smuggling case has 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, official sources said here on Sunday. The notices asking why action under Customs Act should not be taken against them in the smuggling cases were issued by Customs (Preventive) Commissioner Sumit Kumar on June 16.
The case against them involves smuggling of a total of 167 kg of gold 23 times including the illegal trade of 30 kilograms gold worth nearly Rs 15 crore that was seized by the Customs at Thiruvananthapuram Airport from a diplomatic bag on July 5, 2020, the sources told P T I. Former UAE Consulate General Jamal al-Zabi and Attach Rashid Khamis Ali were issued notice through the Union Finance Ministry, sources said.
The Finance Ministry will forward the matter to the External Affairs Ministry as it is a matter involving foreign diplomats who have already left the country, they said. Besides Suresh, six others who were served notices are currently detained under COFEPOSA (the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act).
The key accused who were served notices included Sarith P S, Sandeep Nair and K T Ramees, they said. The show-cause notices were prepared based on the statements of the accused, the documents that were seized and other evidence collected during the probe.
They have been requested to inform if they desire to be heard in person before the case is adjudicated. “All these people are given a chance of 30 days for reply," the source said.
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.PTI TGB SS .