Kochi, Aug 13 (IANS) Close on the heels of an NIA court denying bail to Swapna Suresh, the prime accused in the gold smuggling case, an Economic Offences Court on Thursday, where the Customs has filed a case against her, also refused to give her bail.
The Customs in their argument said that given her huge and wide ranging contacts with higher ups, granting bail to her could be detrimental to the investigation. This was accepted by the court.
After the scam came to light last month and the NIA was handed over the probe, the Central agency had arrested Swapna and her associate Sandip Nair from Bengaluru on July 11.
Swapna was later arrested by the Customs and the Enforcement Directorate and has undergone multiple rounds of questioning from all the agencies.
The gold smuggling case was unearthed when P. S. Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, was arrested by the Customs on July 5 while he was facilitating smuggling of 30 kg gold in the diplomatic baggage to Thiruvananthapuram from Dubai.
It turned murkier when the name of Swapna, a former employee of the Consulate and employed with the state IT Department, surfaced and more so when her links with powerful IAS official M. Sivasankar, came out. Sivasankar held the dual posts of Principal Secretary to Vijayan and state IT Secretary.
The IAS officer was subsequently removed from both posts and then suspended by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Meanwhile, the NIA probe team on Wednesday night arrived for the second time at the State Secretariat to find out more details from the State Protocol office on the statement made by Kerala Higher Education Minister K. T. Jaleel. He had said that during Ramzan he had received kits for distribution and copies of the Holy Quran directly from the UAE consulate, which is in a violation of the protocol.
According to the code of conduct for state ministers, they cannot accept gifts which are valued at over Rs 5,000. Besides, the rules are clear that all such items should be routed only through the Ministry of External Affairs and not given directly to either state ministers or Union ministers.