‘Swapna was possibly a pawn, Sivasankar, the beneficiary’: ED on gold smuggling case

Sivasankar’s counsel accused the ED of harassment for trying to arrest Sivasankar on ‘suppositions’ that he might be a kingpin in the case.
Sivasankar IAS
Sivasankar IAS
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While the Kerala High Court has extended interim protection from arrest for suspended IAS officer M Sivasankar till October 28, the Enforcement Directorate probing the Kerala gold smuggling case has made striking allegations against the senior bureaucrat. The ED has said that it is possible that Swapna Suresh may only be a pawn in the case and that Sivasankar could have been the ‘real beneficiary’. However, Sivasankar's counsel strongly opposed this and said that the ED was making off the cuff allegations.

The agency made the statements in Kerala High Court while considering the pre-arrest bail plea of senior IAS officer M Sivasankar, who was removed from service over alleged links with key accused in the gold smuggling case. The ED said that it has evidence to show that Sivasankar helped Swapna Suresh and that he had contacted Customs officials to clear the diplomatic consignment.

“Sivasankar was aware of the dealings of Swapna Suresh, prime accused in the gold smuggling case. He is not telling the truth during interrogation," said Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, who appeared for ED, according to Live Law. “There are materials showing his involvement. There is a requirement of custodial interrogation. He (M Sivasankar IAS) has been lying right, left and centre. Even when he was confronted with Whatsapp messages, he denied.” Sivasankar's lawyer P Vijaya Bhanu objected this saying that such a call never happened and this has not been presented by the ED itself in its 302 page report.

The ED also alleged that they have reasons to believe that the commission for smuggling gold was going to Sivasankar and that his conduct showed his “full involvement”. “We have evidence that Rs 64 lakh, proceeds of the crime, was sought to be converted and Sivasankar was actively involved in helping Swapna Suresh to do that. We have reasons to believe that Swapna was only a pawn and Sivasankar was the real beneficiary. Swapna was completely under his control and strings were pulled by him. This is a possibility we are investigating,” the ED’s counsel added.

The Customs Department also objected to the court granting Sivasankar bail stating that it will hamper evidence. The ED also said that he is a 'very influential' person and was former Principal Secretary to CM.

Meanwhile, Sivasankar has denied the allegations in court. His counsel, advocate P Vijaya Bhanu, stated that the Whatsapp chats details between his client and Swapna that ED has shown were related with another amount of Rs 30 lakh that was deposited in 2018.

Sivasankar’s counsel went on to accuse the ED of harassment for trying to arrest Sivasankar on ‘suppositions’ that might be the kingpin in the case. Even the Customs which is conducting a parallel inquiry had not stated under which sections it should proceed against him, Sivasankar’s counsel said.

“I have become untouchable now. I don't even get a hotel room. That is my influence now… I have been cooperating. They have questioned me for over 90 hours. Even after that, there is no evidence,” Bhanu said in court, quoting Sivasankar.

Meanwhile, amidst the opposition by Sivasankar’s counsel, the Enforcement Directorate has said it will submit materials relating to the case to court in a ‘sealed cover’.

Recently, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is also conducting a parallel inquiry into the gold smuggling case, told a special court in Kochi that Sivasankar was not a suspect.

Watch video: Sivasankar diposing in Customs office

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