Kerala gold smuggling: Court extends ED custody of M Sivasankar by six days

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M Sivasankar, former principal secretary of Kerala CMO (file photo)
M Sivasankar, former principal secretary of Kerala CMO (file photo)

Kochi (Kerala) [India], November 5 (ANI): A Principal Sessions Court in Kochi on Thursday extended the Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody of M Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary of the Kerala CMO, for six days in connection with the Kerala gold smuggling case.

During the hearing, the counsel appearing for the ED submitted that the agency was able to collect materials evidencing the active role of Sivasankar in the offences committed.

"The Whatsapp chats between Swapna Suresh and Sivasankar extracted from the seized mobile handsets revealed that Sivasankar was sharing confidential government information pertaining to the Life Mission projects and KFON projects with Suresh for the purpose of sharing to Unitac Builders and Developers Ltd, who had already admitted to having paid huge amounts of kickbacks to Swapna and others," the economic offences watchdog submitted.

The ED, which is probing a money laundering case related to the smuggling of gold into the state through diplomatic channels, said that the way Sivasankar was sharing the confidential information pertaining to government projects indicate that he is part of the shady deal.

"On the basis of the Whatsapp chats, the ED conducted search action office and residential premises of the Pennae Industries Ltd, Hyderabad CMD on November 4, 2020, and recovered incriminating material which needs to be confronted with the accused," the ED submitted.

"Sivasankar was overseeing the execution of many important projects of the Kerala government which, inter-alia, includes SmartCity project, KFON, Life Mission project. The investigation conducted so far has revealed that Swapna has been associated in some way or the other in all these three projects and documentary evidence are there to this effect," it added.

The ED submitted that it is no coincidence that Sivasankar knows all the main accused of gold smuggling including Sarith PS, Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair.

"Sivasankar has acknowledged this fact. Another person Khalid, Finance head of UAE Consulate, the major beneficiary of the kickback received from Unitac Builders was also known to Sivasankar. Sivasankar tried to mislead the investigation by denying his acquaintance with Khalid. Later, he admitted to have know Khalid," it said.

"This needs to be investigated, more so, in the light of finding that the huge amount of kickback was passed on by Unitac Builders and Sane Ventures to Swapna and other accused with the active knowledge of M Sivasankar," ED added.

Notably, Sivasankar was recently named as the fifth accused in the Wadakkanchery life mission scam case by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau. (ANI)