The NIA had filed a case against four accused, including Swapna Suresh in connection with the seizure of 30 kg gold at Trivandrum International Airport on July 5.
File photo of accused Swapna Suresh (Picture Courtesy: Twitter @gokulchan)
Within 24 hours of taking over the probe into a gold smuggling racket, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) detained accused Swapna Suresh on Saturday.
Sources in the probe agency stated that Swapna Suresh has been detained or now and a final call to arrest her will be taken post-interrogation. Co-accused Sandeep Nair has is also being questioned.
Both Swapna and Sandeep were reportedly hiding at a hotel in Bengaluru’s BTM Layout.
On Friday, the NIA registered a case in connection with an alleged gold smuggling racket in Kerala under sections 16,17 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. In its complaint, the NIA identified the accused as Swapna Suresh, Sarith, Fazil Fareed and Sandeep Nair.
The matter first came to light on July 5 when 30 kg of 24-carat gold worth Rs 14.82 crores was seized at the Trivandrum International Airport by Customs. According to the NIA and Customs, the gold was concealed in diplomatic baggage from UAE and addressed to the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.
Sarith, a former PRO at the UAE consulate was arrested after Kerala Police discovered that he was supposed to receive the package. Customs officials also found out that Sarith has received several such consignments in the past.
Swapna Suresh was also named in the NIA’s complaint after her name came up in connection with the gold smuggling racket. She is a former executive secretary at the UAE Consulate-General’s office.
It is being alleged that Swapna Suresh used her position at the Consulate to forge documents enabling racketeers to smuggle gold into India from Gulf countries under the garb of diplomatic immunity.
Swapna Suresh’s involvement in the case triggered a massive political storm after reports highlighted her links to M Sivasankar, principal secretary to Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan. The Chief Minister immediately removed Sivasankar from the post but protests have been underway in parts of Kerala this past week with political leaders demanding CM Vijayan’s resignation.