One of the key accused in the Kerala gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh, has confessed that the suspended principal secretary to the Chief Minister "was like a mentor to her", the National Investigation Agency (NIA) told a court on Thursday, opposing her petition for bail.
After the court hearing, the defence counsel told the media that the NIA, while reading out the confession statement of Swapna Suresh, mentioned that she knew M Sivasankar and that according to her, he was like a mentor to her. M Sivasankar is the suspended ex-Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, and a senior IAS officer.
"Swapna Suresh has said that she knows M Sivasankar. And that he is like a mentor to her," the Defense Counsel Geo Paul said, when asked by the media about the day's proceedings.
According to the advocate, the NIA also made a passing reference to accused Swapna Suresh knowing the Chief Minister. "It was just a passing reference made by NIA that Swapna Suresh knew the Chief Minister."
"Many of us know the Chief Minister," he added, when asked specifically.
"We have recorded her statement and she has disclosed many things. We are in the process of verifying them as an accused can allege many things in custody," NIA sources said.
Meanwhile, the customs department has opposed Swapna Suresh's bail plea in another court saying that the "petitioner has already demonstrated that she is extremely influential in the corridors of power".
"She also commands considerable clout in Kerala police," the report by customs said.
"If Swapna is innocent, there is no reason for her to have absconded from a state where she commands tremendous influence along with another accused in this case," the report by customs said, adding that it is "hazardous" to the investigation for influential people like to be release on bail.
Earlier this week, the NIA had told the court that about 200 kg gold, worth over Rs 100 crore, had been sneaked into the country from the UAE through diplomatic channels in Kerala.
The NIA said using the diplomatic channel process, gold was smuggled around 20 times between November 2019 and January 2020.
The racket was uncovered with the seizure of around 30 kg gold worth about Rs 15 crore, by the customs department at the Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5. The gold was found in diplomatic baggage linked to the United Arab Emirates consulate in the state.