Vinodhini is said to have used an iPhone that was given to Swapna Suresh by Santhosh Eapen, MD of Unitac Builders.

Vinodhini Balakrishnan and Kodiyeri Balakrishnan
news Controversy Wednesday, March 24, 2021 - 13:13

The Customs Department in Kerala has once again issued a notice to the state’s Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s wife Vinodhini Balakrishnan, to appear before it. As per the notice, Vinodhini has been asked to appear before the investigative agency, which is probing the ongoing gold smuggling case, on March 30. She was issued the notice on the allegation that she used an iPhone that was gifted to gold smuggling-accused Swapna Suresh by the Managing Director of Unitac Builders, a firm connected to the Life Mission controversy.

Customs first issued a summons to Vinodhini on March 6, however, she failed to appear before the agency. Reportedly, this is the third time that Customs has issued the notice to Vinodhini.

According to Customs, until last July, Vinodhini was using an iPhone, which was one among the five that Santhosh Eapen, MD of Unitac Builders gave Swapna Suresh. Unitac Builders was hired as the contractor for the state government’s housing project Life Mission in Wadakanchery. The firm is alleged to have bagged the contract by paying kickback to Swapna (prime accused in the Kerala diplomatic channel gold smuggling case), and some former officials of UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.

As per the statement given by Swapna and Eappen, five iPhones were given to Swapna to gift to VIP guests who participated in the UAE National Day celebrations, held in Kochi in December 2019. Santhosh Eappen was also recently arrested by the Customs as the fifth accused in the dollar smuggling case, in which the former Finance Head of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram is said to have smuggled USD 1,90,000 (equivalent to Rs 1.30 crore).

Vinodhini Balakrishnan has reportedly denied the allegations of her using the iPhone given by Swapna Suresh. Her husband Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had to bow out as secretary of the CPI(M) last year after his younger son Bineesh Kodiyeri was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in Bengaluru in a money laundering case. Bineesh continues to be in jail.

Their elder son Binoy Kodiyeri is also entangled in a case where a woman from Bihar has approached the Mumbai High Court claiming that her child is the son of Binoy.

Read: The Kerala gold smuggling case and all its controversies: An exhaustive explainer