ED files charge sheet against suspended IAS officer Sivasankar in gold smuggling case

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Kochi, Dec 24 (PTI) Suspended IAS officer M Sivasankar 'knowingly assisted' other key accused in the gold smuggling through diplomatic channel in Kerala, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), probing the money trail in the racket, alleged in a supplementary charge sheet filed in a special court here on Thursday.

The agency said its investigation so far revealed Sivasankar, the fifth accused in the case, indulged in criminal activities and committed scheduled offences.

The ED filed the partial charge sheet in the court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cases here, days before the 60-day limit for filing the charge sheet was to end.

In the absence of a charge sheet before 60 days from arrest, an accused is entitled for statutory bail. Sivasankar was arrested by the ED on October 28 and is under judicial custody.

The agency had in October filed an interim charge-sheet against three key accused Sarith P S, Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair.

In the supplementary charge sheet filed under section 44 and 45 of PMLA for commission of offence of money laundering, the ED alleged that Sivasankar had knowingly assisted the three in smuggling of gold through diplomatic channel.

It also alleged Sivasankar had accepted illegal gratification from Santhosh Eappen for facilitating the award of contract of UAE Red Crescent sponsored LIFE Mission project at Wadakkancherry, Thrissur to Unitac Builders and Developers Private Limited and Sane Ventures LLP.

LIFE Mission is a state project envisaging total housing for the homeless.

The ED claimed Sivasankar parked the illegal money accepted from Eappen in the bank lockers held jointly by Swapna Suresh and P Venugopal, his chartered accountant, in a scheduled bank and a nationalised bank branches in Thiruvananthapuram.

He committed offence of money laundering under Section 3, punishable under Section 4 of the PMLA, it said.

The ED alleged that Sivasankar was in close contact with another woman to whom he was sharing the day-to-day developments of gold smuggling issue.

In its prayer, the ED appealed to the court to take cognizance of the offence of money laundering and proceed in accordance with law and issue process against Sivasankar and punish him in accordance with the law.

It directed the court to pass orders to confiscate the properties involved in money laundering.

Besides the ED, the National Investigating Agency and the Customs are conducting separate inquiries into the seizure of gold worth nearly Rs 15 crore from a diplomatic baggage at Thiruvananthapuram International airport on July 5. PTI TGB VS VS