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Swapna Suresh wielded clout in CM's office, says NIA

Swapna Suresh wielded clout in CMs office, says NIA

Swapna Suresh _file

Kochi: Swapna Suresh, an accused in the controversial gold smuggling case, wielded clout in the office of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, National Investigation Agency (NIA) - which probes the case- disclosed in a court here on Thursday.

However, Swapna's counsel denied the Central agency's claim.

The NIA team made the statements in the court, when the bail application of Swapna came up for hearing.

The court has now posted the matter for August 10.

Soon after Swapna's arrest, it had surfaced that she and Pinarayi Vijayan's principal secretary and state IT secretary M.Sivasankar, who have since been suspended, were "very thick".

Her counsel Geo Paul told the media that there was no reference made to Vijayan or his office in the court on Thursday.

"Her statement says she knew Vijayan (who wouldn't know her)," Paul said, adding that it was pointed out that Sivasankar was her mentor.

He argued that the UAPA sections invoked by the NIA will not stand.

Incidentally it was Pinarayi Vijayan who had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking an NIA probe into this case, a point that the NIA has mentioned in court. He has also given a free hand to the NIA to probe any angle in the case.

The gold smuggling case that has large scale ramifications across sectors, first surfaced when P.S.Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate, was arrested by the Customs on July 5 while he was facilitating smuggling of 30 kg gold in diplomatic baggage from Dubai to Thiruvananthapuram.

It turned murkier when the name of Swapna, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here and employed with the IT Department, surfaced and it turned full circle when her links with Sivasankar became public.

The NIA also informed the court that even while she and Sivasankar were close, he refused to call the Customs which had confiscated the gold baggage, despite her repeated requests.

The NIA also pointed out that Swapna had huge influence in the UAE Consulate here, as she was being paid a retainer fee, even after she left the job and joined the state-run newly formed Space Park, set up to scout for new companies working in the fields of aerospace, at a huge monthly salary.

Soon after her arrest by the NIA, it emerged that Swapna got this job because of Sivasankar's influence. This even as Swapan's brother claimed that he was not sure whether she has even passed Class 10.

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