Kochi, October 22 (PTI): The Customs Department, which has been probing the controversial gold smuggling case through diplomatic channel, on Friday submitted the charge sheet before a court here arraigning 29 accused including M Sivasankar, the former IT secretary.
In the 188 page charge sheet, filed before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate court (Economic Offences here, the Customs have listed Sarith P S, Swapna Prabha Suresh and Sandeep Nair as the first, second and the third accused respectively and Sivasankar as the 29th accused.
”…accused persons Swapna Prabha Suresh, Sarith PS, Sandeep H N and Ramees K T played a pivotal role in masterminding and carrying out the smuggling operations enticing into their smuggling network the other accused,” the charge sheet said.
”M Sivasankar was knowingly concerned in misdeclaration and fraudulent evasion of customs duty chargeable and has offered the unscrupulous elements an undue platform for misuse of diplomatic immunity,” the Customs said.
The Customs, however, has not made an accused, the consul general, in whose name the gold was smuggled from UAE.
The Department has said that the gold was smuggled for certain investors in northern Kerala.
It has also found that the accused has smuggled 169 kg of gold in 21 attempts. The charge sheet also said that two trials were conducted before the accused actually smuggled the gold. Besides the Customs, the NIA, the ED and the Income Tax Department has been probing the accused involved in the case.
The NIA had in February filed its charge sheet against 20 people before a special court here for their alleged involvement in smuggling 30 kg of gold worth Rs 14.82 crore in diplomatic baggage into Kerala.
The case pertains to the seizure of 30 kg of gold on July 5 last year from a diplomatic baggage at the air cargo of the Trivandrum International Airport by the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Kochi.
The consignment was found camouflaged in diplomatic baggage from the UAE that is exempted from inspection in accordance with the Vienna Convention. IAS officer Sivasakar was removed as Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and as the state IT Secretary over his alleged links with Swapna Suresh and other accused in the case.
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