Customs target Sivasankar following Swapna's revelation

The Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA) has been invoked against Sarith PS besides Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair
Customs target Sivasankar following Swapna's revelation

Swapna Suresh, the second accused in the Kerala gold smuggling case, gave a statement before Customs on Tuesday that M Sivasankar, former Principal secretary, instigated gold smuggling through diplomatic baggage. The supposed role of Sivasankar was uncovered in the remand report and custody application filed by the Customs before the Economic Offences Court, Ernakulam, on Tuesday.

However, Swapna had earlier given the same statement when she was questioned in jail after the Enforcement Directorate arrested Sivasankar. So far, the Customs has not revealed whether Swapna had disclosed more names. It is expected that in the coming days, more arrests are likely to happen after Sivasankar’s questioning.

According to Section 108 of the Customs Act, 1962, the statement given before the investigating officer has the same evidential value as statements recorded before the magistrate under the Criminal Procedure Code 164.

Reportedly, the Customs officials said that they had received direct incriminating materials against “Sivasankar of his involvement and being concerned in smuggling of gold illegally, which is an offence under the Customs Act, 1962.”

A few weeks back, the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA) was invoked against Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair. Now, COFEPOSA has been invoked against Sarith PS too. Earlier, the Customs department had sought permission to charge seven people-under COFEPOSA. It included KT Ramees and Rabins K Hameed also.

It is claimed that the offence committed by Sivasankar is non-bailable since the value of seized gold, in this case, exceeds Rs 1 crore. In addition, Rs 64 lakhs found from Swapna’s bank locker was claimed to be Sivasankar’s money that he had received as a kickback for various government projects.

On Tuesday, a Customs team led by Superintendent Vivek Vasudevan Nair had recorded Sivasankar’s arrest at the Kakkanad District Jail, where he was in judicial remand in connection with the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). In this case, Sivasankar has been indicted as the 23rd respondent.

The plea for his 10-day custody will come up before the Ernakulam Economic Offences Court today.

Meanwhile, the central intelligence agency is planning to analyse the voice clip that is believed to be that of Swapna Suresh. The Crime Branch team, which is investigating the case, will again record Swapna’s statement. It is suspected that the voice message was recorded while she was taken for evidence collection and medical examination to court by women cops. If it is confirmed that the voice in the clip is that of Swapna, then the investigation will be extended to the woman cop who assisted her at that time.

The NationWide