Customs Officer Transferred in Gold Smuggling Case as he States No Pressure on him from CM Office to Release Gold Consignment
· Diplomat Offered Rs. 750 per 10 gms Commission for Use of Diplomatic Bag
In a blow to the Customs probe of the smuggling of gold via diplomatic baggage, Joint Commissioner Aniesh P Rajan has been transferred to Nagpur.
Aniesh had landed in a controversy when he told the media that no one from the Chief Minister's office called the Customs to release the baggage containing the gold, which was seized at Thiruvananthapuram airport.
The copy of the transfer copy accessed by a News agency did not state any reasons for the decision. The order by the Department of Revenue, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs was signed by Under Secretary S A Ansari. It is directed that the officer should join Nagpur CGST and CX Zone on August 10.
Aniesh was serving as Joint Commissioner of Customs Commissionerate (Preventive) for the past four years. Interestingly, in two places of the order, Aneish was addressed as her and she.
While getting into a lift at the Customs office, reporters had asked whether there was any call from the CM's office to release the baggage. To which he replied, "We did not get any calls."
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan referred to his statement in his daily press conference claiming that Customs has already said there was no intervention from the CM's office.
However, BJP and Congress leaders labelled Aniesh a pro-Left officer, citing his Facebook post about the good work of the LDF government during the COVID-19 pandemic. His family also followed the Left ideology and took part in CPM campaigns including the government's human chain programme.
Customs sources said the transfer of Aneish has had an impact on the investigating team probing the gold smuggling. Aneish was initially supervising the case but was not involved after the controversy.
Some of the Customs officials cited politics for transferring him to Nagpur. "The transfer is a psychological jolt to the officers probing the case. We were expecting some action after the entire probe is over. However, such unnecessary transfer in the middle of the probe could have been avoided. We feel the transfer to Nagpur is deliberate as some labelled him a Leftist officer. He never showed any political leanings in his work," an official said.
In connection to the diplomatic baggage gold smuggling case, the Customs department will seek permission from the Ministry of External Affairs to interrogate the attaché at the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram. The officials decided to question the attaché based on the information provided by the accused Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair. Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair are in custody. However, the Customs officials are preparing about 20 questions to be asked to the attaché. Swapna and Sandeep reiterated their statement during interrogation that they used to give 1,000 Dollars per kilogram as commission to the attaché each time they smuggled the gold. With this, the involvement of the attaché in the case has come to the forefront.