Customs records statement of Kerala Assembly speaker in Dollar smuggling case

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(Eds: Adds inputs) Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 10 (PTI) The Customs, probing the dollar smuggling case, has recorded the statement of Kerala Assembly speaker P Sreeramakrishnan, at his official residence here.

The Speaker's office has maintained that he was not questioned and only some explanations were sought and his statement was recorded.

Customs department sleuths reached Sreeramakrishnan's house on Friday as he had informed them that he was unable to reach Kochi due to some health related issues.

'They sought explanation on certain matters with regard to the Dollar scam and spent less than two hours and were satisfied,' the Speaker's office told PTI.

The central agency's action comes following the Speaker's refusal to appear before the probe team in Kochi despite being summoned thrice to record his statement in connection with the dollar smuggling case.

Citing various reasons, the speaker had not appeared before the officials.

The dollar case pertainingto the alleged smuggling of USD 1,90,000 (equivalent to Rs 1.30 crore) by a former finance head of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram to Muscat in Oman, came to light during the probe into the Gold smuggling case.

Swapna Suresh, key accused in the gold smuggling case, had allegedly made shocking revelations against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the Speaker and some ministers with regard to dollar 'smuggling' involving UAE consulate officials.

Suresh and P S Sarith, another accused in the two cases, had claimed before the Enforcement Directorate, probing the money trail in the gold case, that theAssembly Speaker had made investment in a college in Oman.

They also said Sreeramakrishnan handed over currency bundles meant for a UAE consulate official at a flat here, as per their depositions submitted in the High Court by the central agency.

On January 8 this year, Customs recorded the statement of Sreeramakrishnan's assistant private secretary, K Ayyappan in connection with the investigation into the dollar case.

Ayyappan, responsible for charting out the Speaker's daily programmes and travel related matters, had been questioned to cross check the evidence Customs hadgathered on alleged involvement of some 'powerful persons' inconnection with the 'smuggling' of US currency from Kerala toOman.

Meanwhile, customs officials also reportedly conducted searches at the flat in the city where the bag containing the dollar was allegedly handed over to Suresh and Sarith.

Swapna Suresh had also given a statement to the ED, alleging that the Speaker had tried to befriend her 'for some personal dirty intentions', which the Speaker had rejected stating that it was 'fake propaganda' unleashed against the Left organisations and its leaders ahead of the April 6 assembly polls in the state.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), ED and Customs conducted separate investigations in the two rackets. PTI UD ROH ROH