By our Legal Correspondent
Thrissur,, Nov 10 (IVC) The Customs department has imposed Rs 7.8 (Seven point eight ) crore in the sensational diplomatic gold smuggling and export of dollar illegally to Cairo (Egypt) in July 2020.
The Customs has imposed a fine of Rs 50 lakh on the former Principal Secretary to Kerala Chief Minister, M Sivasankar who used his clouts as the Secretary to Chief Minister to facilitate gold smuggling and Rs 65 lakh for his role in the export of dollar illegally to Cairo. In all Sivasankar has to pay a huge amount of Rs.1.15 (One point fifteen) crore in two cases.
This was the first time in the history of Independent India that the Customs imposed fine on an IAS official for his proven involvement of smuggling gold and dollar.
The Customs also imposed penalty on the prime accused in the diplomatic gold smuggling
Swapna Suresh to the tune of Rs 6 (Six) crore related to the smuggling gold through diplomatic baggage of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapurm.
The Customs also imposed a fine of Rs 65 lakh on Swapna Suresh on her proven role in the dollar smuggling case.
In all the Commissioner of Customs (Preventive) Kochi imposed a penalty of Rs 66.6 crore on 44 accused persons ,including Sivasnkar and Swapna Suresh, in the diplomatic gold smuggling.
The Customs officials at the International Airport at Thiruvananthapuram had seized gold weighing over 30 kg , valued at Rs 14.8 crore on July 05, 2020.
The contraband was found inside the diplomatic baggage and addressed to the UAE Consulate.
Mr Sivasankar, then the Principal Secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was arrested by the Customs after Swapna Suresh submitted that he had abetted the gold smuggling activities and he was “in the know of things”.
The Customs officials revealed that the smuggling racket successfully brought illegally to Kerala about 136.8 kg gold in between July 15, 2019 and June 27, 2020 through the Air Cargo Complex, Thiruvananthapuram worth Rs 46.49 crore.
The racket brought smuggled gold 20 times in the name of the Consul General Jamal Husein Alzaabi and three times in the name of the then Admin Attache and Ex Charge de Affairs of the Consulate.
The customs said that 167 kg gold was smuggled through the active assistance of Cappithan Agencies, Customs Broker. The customs also imposed a penalty of Rs 4 crore on it for their role in smuggling gold.
It was alleged that the intervention of Sivasankar and the former Keala Assembly Speaker, P Sreeramakrishnan had directly involved in facilitating smuggling of gold on behalf of the Chief Minister of Kerala.
The smuggling syndicate also illegally routed the sale proceeds of the smuggled gold to Dubai through hawala channels which was further used for purchase of the next consignment of gold intended to be smuggled into India and continued this process throughout the operation, the Customs officials said.
As per the order issued by the Commissioner of Customs (Preventive), Kochi under Section 114 (penalty for attempting to export goods improperly) of the Customs Act, 1962, on October 30, Khaled Mohamed Ali Shoukry, former finance head of the UAE Consulate, has to remit a penalty of Rs 1.3 (One point three) crore for smuggling foreign currency, amounting to
$1,90,000 equivalent to Re 1.3 Crore, to Cairo, Egypt from the Thiruvanthapuram international airport on August 07, 2019, concealing it in handbags. The Customs imposed on six accused in the dollar smuggling case as penalty an amount of Rs 4.9 crore and in the gold smuggling case another Rs 66.6 crore on 44 accused persons in this regard, thus altogether the Customs imposed penalty of Rs 71.5 crore.