Kerala CM’s principal secretary removed after his name comes up in gold smuggling racket

On Tuesday, the Kerala government had removed M Sivasankar as the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister after his name surfaced in a high-profile gold smuggling case related to the UAE embassy in the capital of Kerala. He has now been replaced by IAS Mir Mohammad Ali. As per reports, Sivasankar was also removed as the IT secretary.

As per reports, Sivasankar is accused of making calls to the customs department to get clearance for a ‘diplomatic package’ that was smuggling 30-kg of gold. He has also been accused, by both the Congress and the BJP, for protecting one of the kingpins of the gold smuggling syndicate, namely, Swapna Suresh. Swapna Suresh’s diplomatic baggage with smuggled gold was held at the Thiruvananthapuram airport.

Reportedly, Sivasankar had facilitated the appointment of Suresh as the operations manager at the Space park under the department of Information Technology. However, according to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the appointment was made without his knowledge.

The government has asked for an explanation from the accused. As per reports, Suresh has been sacked after her name surfaced in the gold smuggling case. Earlier, Sivasankar also signed a deal with the US-based company Sprinklr to collect Coronavirus data for the state. Allegations of data breach were levelled against the company.

Swapna Suresh was misusing ‘diplomatic immunity’ under forged documents

Custom officials in Kerala had earlier nabbed a former employee of the UAE Consulate in Kerala named Sarith where he had divulged that Suresh, also a former staffer, had forged documents to misuse diplomatic privileges. Suresh’s baggage, marked with the address of the UAE Consulate was held at the airport on July 5. Swapna Suresh was working as the marketing liaison officer Space Park under the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL) that comes directly under the IT department.

Swapna Suresh on the run

During the appointment as operations manager, a crime branch case and adverse remarks by the intelligence wing against her were ignored. While Sarith has been nabbed by customs and is being interrogated, the main accused Swapna Suresh is absconding. Customs officials have arrested Sarith and raided the residence of Swapna Suresh.

The UAE Consulate has made it clear that they have no role in the corruption and their staff members were not involved. The baggage with the smuggled gold was opened by customs in the presence of the Consular attache´ and after due permission from the Ministry of External Affairs. The UAE Consulate has also issued a statement and has condemned the misuse of diplomatic channels to carry out illegal activities.

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