In a major development in the Kerala gold smuggling case, key accused Swapna Suresh has reportedly told the Enforcement Directorate that the money, which the National Investigation Agency (NIA) seized from her bank locker, was meant for former IAS officer, M Sivasankar. The Enforcement Directorate has also told the special court in Kochi that Swapna has alleged that Sivasankar and his team in the Chief Minister’s Office knew about the gold smuggling. The agency, which is probing the money laundering angle in the case, said this while seeking an extension in the custody of Sivasankar, who is the fifth accused in the case. The court extended Sivasankar’s custody for one more day.
NIA had seized nearly Rs 1 crore from two bank lockers of Swapna in Thiruvananthapuram, one of which was allegedly jointly opened in the name of Swapna and Chartered Accountant P Venugopal, on the direction of Sivasankar.
According to the ED, Swapna Suresh, second accused in the case, while being interrogated on Tuesday allegedly said, "Mr Sivasankar and his team in CMO was fully aware of the gold smuggling and other electronic items done through diplomatic channels." During the interrogation, ED says Swapna was shown certain WhatsApp messages exchanged between Sivasankar and her and she made this allegation as one of the explanations.
The ED told the court that she further stated that Sivasankar was allegedly aware of the kickbacks received by former UAE Consulate finance head Khalid from the contractors who bagged the Life Mission project at Wadakanchery. Considering the plea filed by ED, the special court extended Sivasankar' custody period, which ended on Tuesday, to one more day. The court will again consider the case on Thursday.
In its plea, the ED has once again stated the allegation that Sivasankar had disclosed confidential information regarding certain state government projects to Swapna Suresh, including Kerala Fibre Optic Network (KFON) project.
The ED also adds that Sivasankar was in contact with Santhosh Eappan of Unitac Builders and Developers, one of the contractors of the controversial Life Mission project in Wadakanchery, and that he wanted Santhosh to be part of some contracts under KFON and Life Mission projects.
It had earlier surfaced that gold smuggling accused Swapna Suresh, Sandeep Nair, Sarith PS and former UAE Consulate employee Khalid had allegedly received huge kickbacks as part of the project.
Sivasankar was arrested on October 28 soon after the High Court rejected his anticipatory bail petition. He had been in ED custody in Kochi, ever since then.
Read about gold smuggling case in detail here: