Kerala dollar smuggling case: M Sivasankar to be released on bail

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M Sivasankar, the suspended Kerala IAS officer who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate and Customs Department for his alleged connection in the sensational gold smuggling case and dollar smuggling case, was released on bail on Wednesday after 98 days in jail. On January 25, the former principal secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister had got bail from the Kerala High Court in the money laundering case attached to the gold case registered by ED. But he had been arrested by the Customs Department on January 20 for his role in the dollar smuggling case.

The Customs officials registered his arrest at the Kakkanad Sub-jail. The former officer is accused of smuggling dollars worth nearly Rs 1.3 crore to the UAE through a former finance head of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram. The other accused in the gold smuggling case – Swapna Suresh and Sarith – are also arraigned as accused in the dollar smuggling case too.

Sivasankar was granted bail in the dollar smuggling case by the Economic Offences Court in Ernakulam. He was the fourth accused in the case.

“Going by the allegations made by the ED, the applicant indulged in laundering Rs 64 lakh which was seized from the SBI locker. There is no indication that the applicant had anything to do with the locker belonging to A2 in Federal Bank. Thus the proviso to Section 45 (1) of the PMLA would operate in view of the fact that the money allegedly laundered is less than Rs 1 crore,” an HC single bench of Justice Ashok Menon said in the gold smuggling case bail order while adding that the applicant Sivasankar is suffering from various illness and section 45 exempts a sick person from its rigors.

After being quizzed multiple times by different agencies probing the gold smuggling case, Sivasankar was first arrested on October 28 by the Enforcement Directorate probing the money laundering angle in the case. Following this, on November 24, the Customs Department made an arrest in the gold smuggling case that the agency is probing. Sivasankar is not an accused in the gold smuggling case being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).