Customs commissioner Sumit Kumar, who is investigating the Kerala gold smuggling case, has made the startling claim in a court filing that prime accused Swapna Suresh has given a statement about smuggling of foreign currency at the instance of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Kumar told the high court in his statement that Suresh, arrested in the case that has embroiled top officials of the Kerala government, has made “shocking revelations about the chief minister’s close connections with the previous consul general of the UAE and the illegal monetary transactions carried out.” He said the accusations were in a confidential statement given by her before the magistrate in Ernakulam.
Suresh has levelled accusations of illegal monetary transactions against the Kerala assembly speaker and three members of the Vijayan cabinet, the statement reads.
The damning revelations have come just before the assembly elections in Kerala next month, and the Vijayan has found himself as the target of corruption allegations because of the smuggling racket. Five central agencies are conducting the probe, which has been alleged to be politically motivated by Vijayan.
The Customs commissioner, in his statement to the HC, said Suresh had revealed her close connection to the Chief Minister and his former principal secretary M Sivasankar, who is currently out on bail.
“She has further stated about the involvement and the kickbacks received by high-profile persons from various deals. The last Respondent had stated that she is aware of all these transactions and was a witness to the same as she is well versed in Arabic language and hence was forced to act as the translator between the above said persons and persons of Middle East origin in all their crucial interactions,” he said.
“The role of the former Principal Secretary in acting as the link between the high profile politicians of Kerala and the UAE Consulate officials as well as some others, and in coordinating the illegal financial dealings under the cover of various activities and projects of the Kerala Government was revealed by her,” the statement added.
The case emerged after custom officials had seized gold weighing 30 kg concealed in imported plumbing material in July last year. The air cargo consignment was addressed to the Consular General of the United Arab Emirates in Thiruvananthapuram district. Officials valued the gold at Rs 15 crore. Swapna Suresh had worked at the consulate-general’s office until seven months ago along with another key accused, Sarith PS.
Suresh had in December alleged threats to her and her family’s life in a statement in December, saying some people had approached and warned her against disclosing names of those in high authority to investigating agencies.
The customs chief told the court her apprehensions regarding her safety in prison and threat to her life were perfectly justified, since she had disclosed highly sensitive information against high-profile politicians and those holding high positions in the state government.