Making a custody request at a Sessions Court in Kerala, the Enforcement Directorate has stated that M Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, knew about the gold smuggling. Moreover, a few members of his team close to the CM also had information regarding the smuggling.
ED had submitted a detailed custody application wherein they explain that the second accused Swapna Suresh had admitted that Sivasankar was aware of the smuggling as well as other activities. The ED makes a strong contention that Sivasankar was not only aware of the illegal activities but also received kickbacks for the various projects.
The Directorate interrogated Swapna on Tuesday, November 10, where the agency asked her about the WhatsApp messages between her and Sivasankar. Her revelations formed the basis for the new custody request. She said that Sivasankar and his team in the Chief Minister’s Office had been aware of the smuggling of gold and other electronic items done through the diplomatic channel. She also added that Sivasankar was aware of the kickbacks Unitac builders MD Santhosh Eapen gave Swapna and her close associate Khalid, CFO of the UAE Consulate, for the Life Mission Project. Out of which, the Rs one crore that was seized from Swapna’s lockers was reportedly meant for Sivasankar.
The situation of the locker is also very important to the ED’s argument. Swapna said that Sivasankar had directed his Chartered Accountant Venugopal to open a joint locker with her. Sivasankar was reportedly aware of the financial transactions happening through the locker. This was earlier confirmed by Venugopal, but Sivasankar remained evasive about it during his custody, said ED officials. The raids by the National Investigation Agency helped reveal the various bank lockers that were in Swapna’s name.
After Swapna’s questioning, it seems that ED can take a more proactive stance in the investigation of KFON and Life Mission projects. She revealed that the suspended IAS office had revealed to her about the KFON and Life Mission Projects. She said that he told her about who would get the projects much before the tenders had been called. Moreover, 26 out of 36 projects had been given to two people. This is when Sivasankar was spearheading or supervising the projects as the Principal Secretary. The ED has also focussed their attention to the various government projects and will be investigating very close to the CM’s office.
The suspended IAS officer had moved a bail petition after the custody term was over, and the ED urged the Court to deny it. The Directorate claimed that if given bail Sivasankar could influence the investigation. Following which the Court granted one more day of custody to the ED.
The Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala said that the CM’s office is becoming a lair for mafia activities. “The ED report is an indication of the criminal activities happening in the CM’s office. The ‘criminal elements’ knew about the projects close to the Chief Minister because his Principal Secretary had revealed it to them. Pinarayi Vijayan’s office has a part in the gold smuggling, and he shouldn’t hang on to his seat like this,” Chennithala added.