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By Saradha | Jul 09, 2020 12:54 PM

Almost 30 Kilogram of smuggled gold was seized from a diplomatic cargo addressed to the UAE Consulate- General Office in Thiruvananthapuram last Sunday. This has surfaced as a huge controversy in Kerala. The gold is reportedly worth Rs 15 crore and on top of that it was found in a diplomatic cargo enjoys the luxury of not being checked during routine customs examination. The controversy has been under the limelight for the past few days also because the key players behind the racket have alleged links with government officials. 

Kerala Gold smuggling scam govt CM office Pinarayi Vijayan IT arrest

The removal of M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to Kerala Chief Minister from his post on Tuesday sparked more suspicion about the alleged govt. Links. The senior IAS official reportedly had a close network with the key player of the smuggling racket, Swapna Suresh, who worked previously as executive secretary at the UAE Consulate- General's office.

How was it exposed?

The stash of gold was found in a diplomatic cargo which reached Thiruvananthapuram international airport last week. According to the law, the diplomatic cargo should not be subjected to routine examination and should also be cleared at the earliest. The cargo was listed as bathroom fittings, noodles, biscuits and dates sent from Al Zatar Spices but since the customs already had specific inputs about concealment of gold, they checked the cargo.

Sarith Kumar, who earlier worked as a local PRO for the Consulate-General office in the city claimed the cargo by identifying that he was still working with the consulate. However, the consulate had already informed the customs that Kumar has been removed from the post of local PRO a year ago. The customs did not release the cargo but instead decided to open the consignment in the presence of officials from the UAE Consulate.


Sarith Kumar, who worked as Consulate PRO from 2016 till a year ago was arrested by the customs officials. He had earlier worked in Dubai at Commercial Bank International as an asset officer. He also worked with Future Group India for a short period of time, 12 years ago.

Who is Swapna Suresh?

Sarith Kumar an accomplice, Swapna Suresh, who worked as an executive secretary at the UAE Consulate in the state capital till seven months back. She mysteriously went into hiding a day before Customs decided to check the diplomatic cargo. 

Swapna Suresh lived in Dubai where her father was handling business and thus, she was socializing with elite social circles. She was posted as HR executive with AISATS, an airport service firm in Thiruvananthapuram. Reportedly, she had conspired with another senior executive at the firm to file a false complaint of sexual abuse against an airport staff.

As per The New Indian Express’ report, she has prepared almost 17 complaints from many bogus names. Once she filed the complaints, she forced police to look into the conspiracy. 

“Suresh was listed as an accused, but the probe was derailed, allegedly because of her influence,” the media organization cited in its report.

She joined the UAE Consulate- General Office in Thiruvananthapuram in 2016 since she had exposure to the emirates and was fluent in Arabic. The Kerala government maintains a good rapport with UAE which is home to many expats form the state. She rose to popularity as the local staff of the consulate. “Suresh moved in social, bureaucratic and political circles, at times even projecting herself as a diplomat. In 2017, when the Sharjah ruler was on a four-day official visit to Kerala, the consulate executive secretary moved along with the dignitaries and attended several official functions,” The New Indian Express reported.

However, she was sacked around a year ago due to her criminal case. Sarith Kumar was also fired for the same reason. In spite of that, she managed to secure a job as business development manager with Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL) due to her strong networking. She was working along with senior IAS officer and IT secretary M Sivasankar as its Chairman. Sivasankar later held post as the Chief Minister’s Principal Secretary.

As per media reports, Sivasankar had recommended Suresh’s name through transnational consultant PricewaterhourCoopers for the post of manager at KSITIL. While the officials claimed that she was a graduate and was qualified for the job, her brother who is living abroad told the media that she hadn’t even completed school board exam. One of her former colleagues at a travel agency has also stated that she had completed only Class XII.

The Investigation

The Customs department is now investigating to check if others were involved in this racket, be it other staff from the Consulate General’s Office or government officials. They have only arrested Kumar and have been looking for Swapna Suresh who is now absconding. 

Customs officials mentioned that they suspect some well- orchestrated smuggling lobby working from the Middle East to be operating and handling the racket. 

“The smuggling racket is always one and the same, in all previous cases of gold smuggling. They use different people and strange ways of concealing the gold in different forms in baggage. We would come across a new method of smuggling only after they completed several successful missions. Then, they (the racket) would explore other venues,” said a senior officer.

அரசியல், விளையாட்டு, நாட்டுநடப்பு, குற்ற சம்பவங்கள், வர்த்தகம், தொழில்நுட்பம், சினிமா, வாழ்க்கை முறை என பலதரப்பட்ட சுவாரஸ்யமான செய்திகளை தமிழில் படிக்க இங்கு கிளிக் செய்யவும்      



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