#KeralaGoldSmuggling: Ex-UAE Consulate employee 'main accused'; CMO links allegedly found
The customs officials at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport seized 30kgs of gold worth Rs. 15 crore during an operation on Sunday. What's shocking is that the gold was seized from a diplomatic consignment bound for the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram. The main accused was identified as Swapna Suresh, an ex-employee of the UAE Consulate who was also working with Kerala's IT Department. Here's more.
Interestingly, Swapna was working as the operational manager at Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL) directly under the purview of the Kerala Chief Minister's Office (CMO). She has been reportedly sacked after the gold smuggling scandal came to light. Following the controversy, the opposition also targeted Kerala CMO over the alleged link between Swapna and M Sivasankar, the Principal Secretary to CM Pinarayi Vijayan.
Meanwhile, the Kerala Government on Tuesday also removed senior IAS officer Sivasankar as the Principal Secretary to the CM. Moreover, a 2011-batch Kerala-cadre IAS officer, Mir Mohammed Ali, has been appointed to the post. However, Sivasankar will reportedly retain his posts as the IT Secretary as well as the Chairperson of the KSITIL, where Swapna, who is currently absconding, was working.
Swapna was born and brought up in Abu Dhabi. Before joining the UAE Consulate, she worked with a Thiruvananthapuram-based travel agency and later joined Air India Sats in 2013. In 2016, she moved to Abu Dhabi after being investigated in a forgery case. She then joined the UAE Consulate but was expelled over irregularities. Later, she managed to get a job in the KSITIL.
Meanwhile, following the controversy over the involvement of former IT Department officer, Swapna, in the gold smuggling case, Kerala CM Vijayan clarified that her appointment to KSITIL as the operational officer was done without his knowledge. "It (Swapna's appointment) was without my knowledge and will endeavor to understand the facts in the matter," said the Chief Minister.
Apart from Swapna, another former employee of the UAE Consulate, Sarith Nair, is also involved in the scandal. Nair was a Public Relations Officer at the consulate. He reportedly used a fake ID card to collect the baggage from which the gold was seized on Sunday. He has been arrested, and it was during his interrogation that Swapna's role in the smuggling was revealed.