Gold smuggling case: Customs serves notice to 53 including UAE consulate officials

Thiruvananthapuram: The Customs officials probing the gold smuggling case issued show-cause notices to 53 persons, including top officials of the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram and Kerala government officials.

It was learnt that the show cause notices were issued as a prelude to filing a chargesheet mention about the undue favours availed by the accused from the state government by misusing the nexus of some of the accused, especially former UAE consulate employee Swapana Suresh, with the who's who in the government.

Kerala CM's former principal secretary M. Sivasankar, who was earlier held by the Customs in the gold smuggling case, was also among those who were issued notices.

Former UAE consul general Jamal al-Zabi and attache and charge d'affaires of the consulate Rashid Khamis Al Ashmia were also served the notices. Customs received a nod from the Ministry of External Affairs for proceeding against the consulate officials having diplomatic protection.

According to sources, Customs found that the Kerala government's protocol wing extended undue diplomatic privileges to some officials of the consulate, which indeed helped them in smuggling under the cover of diplomatic baggage. The proximity of Swapna Suresh with the CMO as well as many top leaders in the government was misused for these purposes.