The National Investigation Agency (NIA), on July 11, arrested two key suspects in the Kerala gold smuggling case - Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair - from Bengaluru.
Swapna is among the four accused booked by the NIA in the smuggling of 30 kg of gold through diplomatic baggage which arrived at the Thiruvanathapuram International airport. Central agencies including the NIA and the Customs Department had opposed Swapna’s anticipatory bail plea in the Kerala High Court.
Swapna, Nair and third accused Sarith are from Thiruvananthapuram, while fourth accused Fazil Fareed is from Ernakulam, PTI reported. The four have been listed in the smuggling case as accused.
Here is all you need to know about Swapna Suresh:
> The smuggled gold was being routed through the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Consulate-General Office in Thiruvananthapuram, and Swapna became the prime suspect after investigators found she had worked there as an executive secretary.
> She allegedly used Consulate documents to enjoy diplomatic immunity for the smuggled gold.
> Swapna’s connection to the case gained more attention after it emerged that she also had connections to the state’s former principal secretary M Sivasankar, under whom she worked as contract staff for the Space Park project.
> She has been on the run since a day prior to Customs involvement in the diplomatic cargo. Her anticipatory bail plea in the Kerala HC was also challenged by both the NIA and Customs.
> Her petition, filed on July 9, said that the airport customs officer in charge of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram Rashid Khamis Al Shameli had falsely implicated her.
> Swapna was a resident of Dubai in 2013 and moved to Thiruvananthapuram to join Air India SATS as an HR executive.
> At the company, she was allegedly involved in a plan to falsely implicate a senior executive of sexual harassment by forging signatures of other women employees, as per an Indian Express report. This included creating 17 complaints under made-up names.
> The case went to the police after the person approached the police for an investigation. Suresh was also listed as accused in that case, but allegedly used her influence to shut down the probe.
> She joined the UAE Consulate-General Office in 2016 and gained good reportedly gained good standing due to her fluency in Arabic and previous stint in the Gulf region.
> She was fired from her post in 2019 due to a criminal case and joined the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL) as a business development manager.
> Here she worked under Chairman Sivasankar, who is a senior IAS officer and IT secretary. He was in 2019 also the Chief Minister’s Principal Secretary.
> Once the connection was discovered, it emerged that Sivasankar had recommended Suresh for the job at KSITIL, the report said.
> She apparently lied about her educational qualifications for the job, claiming to be a graduate. Her brother and former colleagues have disputed this.