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Kerala gold smuggling case| CM took bag full of money to UAE in 2016: Ex-consulate employee

Swapna Sureshone of the accused in the gold smuggling through diplomatic baggage case that rocked the previous LDF regime, on Tuesday alleged that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had taken a bag full of currency to the UAE in 2016.

However, Vijayan, in a statement, trashed the allegation as “baseless”.

Suresh was talking to the media in Kochi after recording her statement under Section 164 of the CrPC in connection with a case pertaining to money laundering that came up during the probe into gold smuggling through diplomatic baggage in 2020 after the customs had seized 30kg gold.

Suresh, a former executive secretary at the Consulate, told the media that she had testified against Vijayan’s wife Kamala, daughter Veena, Vijayan’s former principal secretary M Sivasankar, Vijayan’s chief principal secretary Nalini Netto, and former minister KT Jaleel over their involvement in gold smuggling . “I cannot reveal more,” she said.

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Referring to the alleged involvement of Vijayan in taking currency to the UAE, Suresh said, “Sivasankar had met me for the first time in 2016 when I was the executive secretary to the Consul General. Sivasankar told me that the CM had forgotten to carry a bag, which needed to be taken to Dubai. When the bag was brought to the Consulate (in Thiruvananthapuram), we scanned it and realized that it contained currency. I cannot reveal everything about my statement before the court,” she said.

Suresh said on several occasions, utensils used for cooking ‘biryani‘ were sent to the Cliff House (the official residence of the CM) from the Consulate. “The transfer of utensils made of heavy metals from Consulate to the Cliff House had taken place many times. This had been done at the instance of Sivasankar,” she said.

Reacting to the allegation, Vijayan, in a statement, said there was no truth in the allegation. “When the gold smuggling case came out, the state government had urged the Center to conduct a comprehensive probe. Due to political reasons, certain have been repeatedly made against us. This is part of a certain agenda…I am sure Kerala society will give a befitting reply to those trying to harvest gains through baseless,” he said.

Sivasankar said such had come up several times in the past; while Netto said she accompanied the CM to Dubai in 2016 in her official capacity as his chief principal secretary and was not aware of any other development.

Meanwhile, Opposition leader VD Satheesan sought the resignation of Vijayan. “He has no right to continue as the CM. The probe into the smuggling case did not reach anywhere as part of a deal between the CPI(M) and the BJP, In the wake of the revelations of Suresh, there should be a comprehensive court-monitored probe,” he said.

Earlier, another accused in the gold smuggling case PS Sarith, who also had served at the Consulate, alleged that Vijayan had taken a packet containing a bundle of currency to the UAE during one of his trips. Sarith said that after Vijayan had left for the UAE, Suresh called him and said the Consul General wanted him to collect a packet that the CM had forgotten to carry. Sarith said he picked up a packet from an employee of the General Administration Department at the Secretariat.

Customs had quoted Sarith as saying that after the X-ray machine detected the currency in the packet, he conveyed this to Suresh. “As per her direction, I handed over the packet to Ahamed Al Doukhi, the Admin Attache at the Consulate, who was traveling to the UAE,” he had stated.

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