In a huge setback to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, a special court extended the Enforcement Directorate’s custody of former principal secretary to the Chief Minister – Sivasankar, who was arrested by the probing agency last week in connection with money laundering in the Kerala gold smuggling case.
According to the reports, the ED had filed a plea in the Special PMLA court in Kochi seeking seven more days custody of Sivasankar to interrogate him regarding the communication between him and Swapna Suresh, prime accused in the sensational gold smuggling case. Considering the ED plea, the court extended the custody of Sivasankar by six days.
On October 28, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had arrested Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s former Chief Secretary M Sivasankar in connection with the Gold Smuggling case that emerged in July this year.
The Enforcement Directorate, probing the money trail in the gold smuggling case, has alleged multiple offences against Sivasankar.
Sivasankar had intervened to clear the diplomatic baggage contained smuggled gold
During the investigation, his role was revealed in the smuggling of gold via diplomatic cargo to the UAE consulate in India. The ED had alleged that Sivasankar had intervened to clear the diplomatic baggage containing smuggled gold without examination by the Customs at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport. The arrest of IAS officer M Sivasankar is being seen as a massive setback to the CPI(M)-led Kerala government.
ED has also said that M Sivasankar had aided Swapna Suresh, who was an executive secretary at the UAE consulate and believed to have close relations with CM’s office. It was also mentioned that he had prompted CA Venugopal Iyer to open a joint bank locker with Suresh.
According to ED, Sivasankar was constantly monitoring the money in the bank locker. The agency further stated that he helped Swapna in laundering black money close to Rs 30 lakh. The CA allegedly kept him in the loop about every transaction in the account. The agency also alleged that he helped Swapna to convert black money to foreign currency and smuggle it to the UAE. CA Venugopal has been listed as a witness in the case.
Meanwhile, the National Investigation Agency, Customs and the ED are conducting separate investigations into the seizure of gold worth nearly Rs 15 crore from a “diplomatic baggage” of UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5.
The Kerala gold smuggling case
On 5th July 2020, the gold scam was exposed after the Customs Department seized 30 kg of gold from a diplomatic consignment addressed to the UAE consulate. The department arrested P Sarith Kumar, who had served as public relations officer of the consulate. He was at the airport to receive the luggage.
Later, the department arrested Swapna Suresh, and another accused, Sandip Nair, were arrested in their hideout in Bengaluru. Several top officials of the CM’s officer are under scanner in the scam