GOLD SMUGGLING .. Swapna Suresh spills beans, smuggled gold in via airport over 20 times in recent months


KOCHI: Central investigation agencies that have interrogated Swapna Suresh and her gang-members in the gold smuggling case linked to the UAE consulate in TVM have concluded that this team had smuggled gold into the state through the same modus operandi for over 20 times in recent months. They have also found out that a set of top Customs officials at the airport helped in this in a covert manner.

Hints emerging out of the investigations are also that much of the gold used by jewelleries across India come in through shady channels like the one Swapna and others were involved, and this has been going on for long years. The result is that the governments, both central and state, are losing billions in tax revenue every year due to the collusion of Customs officials and smuggling gangs. Politicians across the spectrum are also getting cuts from the money that these rackets make – this, both individually and  under the “for parties” tag too.  

There, thus, are fears that the case might finally not reach anywhere, as top political establishment in Delhi itself might finally have egg on its face. Clearly, governance at various levels in the country are going to dogs with a blend of vested interests in the form of politicians and bureaucrats bleeding the nation on one side, and business sharks on a virtual loot of public sector banks, further shattering the national economy. 

Swapna Suresh and some of her associates –P Sarith and Sandeep Nair –are currently in the net of the Enforcement Directorate and National Investigation Agency. These entities have also extracted information to hint that the racket has had an indirect link with some terrorist outfits, which took part of the booty. It would also appear that the UAE consul general was among those to whom part of the gains from the smuggling was shared.

The woman used to receive $2,500 for every kilo of gold that was smuggled in, based on the presumptive figure that gang leader KT Ramees would quote every time after a bag is clandestinely or in the label of the UAE embassy bag, allowed out of the airport customs. It turned out after the June seizure of the UAE diplomatic bag at the TVM airport by the Customs that the figure Ramees quotes in terms of weight was about one-third of the actual weight, so that he needed to pay less to Swapna and her associates in the operational gang.

The role of senior IAS officer in the chief minister’s office, M Shivasankar, in the smuggling operation is still under close scrutiny. There is a possibility that he will be arrested, based on how the scenario unfolds in the further interrogations. IHN-NN


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