Ex – UAE consulate staff held in Kerala for smuggling 30 kg gold

Kochi: Swapna Suresh, a former employee at consulate of the UAE in Kerala, has been questioned for her alleged role in a massive gold smuggling racket.

The Customs Department unearthed 30 kg of gold concealed in a bathroom set which was brought to the State in a diplomatic baggage. The diplomatic baggage is exempted from routine check by the Customs Department officials.

On Sunday, the Customs had said it suspected a smuggling syndicate had misused the name of a person who enjoys diplomatic immunity.

On Monday, a senior customs official, who spoke to PTI on condition of anonymity, said the investigation would also look into possible role of any employee of the consulate and made it clear none had been taken into custody.

“Right now we are investigating how can unauthorised people be associated with official clearance of the diplomatic cargo. How come former employees of the consulate handled the consignment, who sent it from outside and whom it was meant to be given to”, the official said.

Noting that suspected smuggling of gold worth over Rs 15 crore was not by “a small chain”, the official said it was very clear that the cover of diplomatic consignment was being used for the purpose.

“Even then they had done deep concealment. Without information no way we could have made the seizure”, the official said.

Airport sources had said the gold was concealed in a baggage consisting of bathroom equipment.

After the seizure on Sunday, Customs Commissioner (Preventive) Sumit Kumar had said: “We suspect scamsters have used the name of the consignee with diplomatic immunity…it is understood the syndicate operating behind this has filed the papers for the consignment in the name of a person with diplomatic immunity.”

The Customs Commissioner had said that as the consignment was addressed to the person with diplomatic immunity, “we had certain questions and as per normal protocol, we requested them to help us and they were kind enough to help us.”

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