The Enforcement Directorate has been busy questioning not one but two high profile individuals from Kerala to unravel two different cases. The Directorate had arrested and remanded M Sivasankar in relation to the gold smuggling cases and the agency is questioning Bineesh in the Bengaluru drug case. However, both have been charged under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
M Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister of Kerala, is under the radar of multiple investigative agencies for many allegations against him. On Thursday, the ED arrested Sivasankar and began questioning his involvement in the infamous gold smuggling case. His alleged business ties with the prime suspect Swapna Suresh has called into question whether the suspended IAS officer is only a participant or the main beneficiary of the operation.
In the recent questioning, Sivasankar submitted his mobile details, which revealed that the one of his phones was a gift from Unitac MD Santhosh Eapen, connecting the IAS officer to the Life Mission scam as well. Following the chain, Sivasankar said that he had introduced Santhosh to UV Jose, the Chief Executive Officer of Life Mission. The agency brought in Jose for questioning as well. The officers have brought Santhosh, Jose, and Sivasankar to be questioned together.
Moreover, the agency has approached the High Court requesting remand of the prime suspects in the gold smuggling case — Swapna, Sandeep, and Sarith. The officers notified the court that with Sivasankar’s arrest and his alleged relations, the suspects must be questioned together to reveal further details. There have been certain problems, since ED has reported to the HC that Sivasankar is not only uncooperative but is also refusing to eat food. In the latest updates, the ED has uncovered that Sivasankar might have had some benami investment in a windmill farm in Nagercoil. It was deduced from the latter's chat with his chartered accountant P Venugopal. The IAS officer's relation with the farm started when he was the chairman of KSEB. The ED believes that Sivasankar, and through him many others, might have invested black money in that venture.
In the Bineesh Kodiyeri case, the ED has been investigating his alleged relationship between the prime accused Anoop Mohammed. The Narcotics Control Bureau caught Anoop with a large cache of various kinds of drugs weeks and ago, and their investigation led to a financial link with Bineesh. The latter, who is CPI (M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s son, had told ED that he was only financially helping Anoop. However, latest updates from the questioning reveals contradicting claims. Anoop admitted that he was only acting on behalf of Bineesh, and referred to the latter as “boss”. The admission also includes the idea that Anoop was Bineesh’s benamidar, using the latter’s money to set up a hotel. Reportedly, the hotel was used as a front for money laundering and drug trafficking.
The reported “financial support” involves crores in total. The money has been used to fund the hotel and its expansion, but officers believe that it may have been used to fund the drug business. The agency is also pursuing the money-laundering angle of the case. Meanwhile, the Karnataka government might ask the National Investigation Agency to take over.
Yesterday, the ED denied visitation rights to Bineesh’s brother Binoy Kodiyeri, and his lawyers. They have approached the Karnataka High Court seeking visitation rights. Even though the ED had reportedly questioned Bineesh for 12 hours, the latter gave no reply to whether Anoop was his benamidar. Moreover, when media persons asked him the same question, Bineesh just chuckled and ignored it. At the same time, NCB has recovered a Thiruvananthapuram registered bike in Anoop’s name that has been allegedly used to smuggle drugs. The latest updates from teh questioning on Saturday evening indicates that investigators might be probing Bineesh's role in the drug case. While ED probes the financial angle, Narcotics Bureau has stepped into questioning looking into the drug case and whether Bineesh had any role in it.
Back in Kerala, the opposition has taken their stand against the issue and made some allegations regarding the issues. Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala said that he knows “who has the fifth iPhone”. He further adds that he is not ready to share that at this juncture. During the initial stages of the iPhone issue, many had claimed that Swapna Suresh gifted one of the iPhones she received as commission from Santhosh Eapen to Ramesh Chennithala.
BJP State President K Surendran followed this with some severe allegation against the sports council. He said, “Sports Council President Mercy Kuttan’s PA used the official vehicle to smuggle gold to Bengaluru.” This invited a lot of attention to the situation. He added that there must be investigation into the appointment of the PA as there are suspicious conditions surrounding it. Following which, Mercy Kuttan has decided to take legal action against Surendran for his allegations.
When coming to Bineesh, his membership with AMMA (Association of Malayalam Movie Artists) seems to be in trouble. The top brass of the association told media that they would be discussing his membership in their next executive meeting. Meanwhile, Kerala BJP continues their demand to probe Bineesh’s links to the Kerala Cricket Association.