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UAE to probe Dh7m gold smuggling bid to India

anjana@khaleejtimes.com Filed on July 7, 2020 | Last updated on July 7, 2020 at 07.50 pm
gold smuggling, UAE consulate kerala, Thiruvananthapuram International Airport

(alamy.com/ae)

The precious metal was found concealed in the form of small cylinders along with plumbing items, water taps and door locks.

Authorities in the UAE have launched an investigation to identify and nab the individual who sent a parcel containing 30kg gold addressed to the UAE Consulate in Kerala.

The UAE Embassy in India told Khaleej Times in a statement on Tuesday that the culprits won't be spared. "The culprits not only committed a major crime but also sought to tarnish the reputation of the UAE mission in India. We remain committed to cooperating with the Indian authorities in getting to the root of the crime," the mission said.

The parcel containing gold worth approximately Dh7 million was intercepted at the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport by customs authorities on Sunday. The precious metal was found concealed in the form of small cylinders along with plumbing items, water taps and door locks.

The consulate had in an earlier statement condemned the misuse of diplomatic channels to smuggle the gold. It said a former locally-hired employee was responsible for the act. The employee in question was fired for misconduct "long preceding this incident".

Sarith, 39, who is believed to have worked as a PRO with the consulate was arrested on Monday. The authorities are searching for another former employee, Swapna Suresh, who is at large. A former executive secretary at the UAE Consulate, Swapna is the main suspect. Customs officials claimed the duo had been misusing the diplomatic channels to receive parcels from abroad.

Swapna, an employee at the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL), was terminated from service after she was named as the prime suspect.

Political twist

The case has taken a political twist in Kerala with reports emerging that Swapna was closely associated Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's principal secretary M Sivasankar, who is also the state IT secretary and chairman of KSITIL. The senior IAS officer has since been removed as the principal secretary but continues to be the IT department head. Dismissing the allegations from opposition parties that the Chief Minister's office had close links to the gold racket, Vijayan said Swapna had been appointed without his knowledge. "I don't know under what circumstances she was appointed. It was not with my consent," he said.

author

Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a UAE-based journalist chasing global stories of conflict, migration and human rights. She has reported from the frontlines of the wars in Yemen and Syria and has extensively written on the refugee crisis in Bangladesh, Iraq and Europe. From interviewing Daesh militants to embedding with the UAE army in Yemen, and covering earthquakes, floods, terrorist attacks and elections, she has come out scathe-free from the most dangerous conflict zones of the world. Riding on over 14 years of experience, Anjana currently is an Assistant Editor with Khaleej Times and leads the reporting team. She often speaks about women empowerment on her Facebook page that has 40,000 plus followers.





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