case, says ED (Eds: rpting after correction in para 4) Kochi, Oct 7 (PTI) The Enforcement Directorate has said a thorough investigation of suspended IAS officer M Sivasankar is required in the Kerala gold smuggling case as he allegedly facilitated opening a locker for the prime accused Swapna Suresh.
The locker with a nationalised bank was used by Suresh to keep the profits from the smuggling, according to the ED, which is probing the money trail in the case.
In an interim charge-sheet submitted in the Special Court for PMLA cases against three accused --Suresh, Sarith P S and Sandeep Nair on Tuesday, the ED claimed she had given it a statement, saying she was selected in the state government promoted Space Park project as she was close to Sivasankar.
Her appointment was in RPT in the knowledge of the Chief Minister of Kerala, the ED said.
In his August 12 and 15 statements to the ED, given under Section 50 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), Sivasankar admitted he had facilitated Suresh to open the bank locker jointly with his chartered accountant P Venugopal with SBI, Thiruvananthapuram branch, the agency said.
Venugopal was referred to her by Sivasankar to manage her funds and she trusted Sivasankar, it added.
Sivasankar has denied having knowledge that Suresh was in possession of huge cash with her, the ED said in the interim charge-sheet.
It added the probe revealed Suresh was directly involved in smuggling of gold through diplomatic baggage and had earned lucrative profits from it.
The proceeds of the crime had been kept in the bank locker in the form of gold and cash, which were already seized by the NIA, Kochi, the ED said.
'In the light of the above, the role of M Sivasankar, who was the key person in the present government, in the entire episode has to be thoroughly investigated and the mirror image of the electronic evidences has to be confronted with him as well as the accused persons and others', the ED said.
In August 2019, Suresh resigned from the UAE Consulate and sought the help of the suspended IAS officer, then principal secretary of Chief Minister, to get a job, the agency said.
In her statement to the ED, Suresh claimed Sivasankar had asked her to submit her resume to PriceWaterhouseCoopers Pvt Ltd (PWC) over an opening in the Space Park project under Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Ltd (KSITIL), the agency said.
Suresh had put Sivasankar's name as a reference in her resume and she was selected for the opening in the Space Park in October 2019.
She was selected in Space Park as she was close to Sivasankar, trustworthy and reliable and her appointment was with the knowledge of the Chief Minister of Kerala, the ED said, quoting her statement given to it.
Suresh further stated that another key accused, Ramees, had approached her and Sarith for smuggling gold.
They decided to smuggle gold and arranged for two trial consignments, it said, adding, Sarith had forged the required documents and after clearance, he and Suresh handed over the gold to Sandeep Nair.
Gold was smuggled through Thiruvananthapuram airport on 21 occasions and she facilitated the smuggling.Sarith gave the smuggled gold to Sandeep, who in turn gave it to Ramees, it said.
In her statement to the ED on August 8, Suresh said she met Sivasankar around eight times officially, but many times unofficially.
She has also said she met Sivasankar five to six times in the presence of the Chief Minister of Kerala, the ED said in the interim charge-sheet.
Central agencies, including NIA, Customs and Enforcement Directorate, are conducting a separate probe into the seizure of gold worth nearly Rs 15 crore from a 'diplomatic baggage' at Thiruvananthapuram International airport on July 5.
Several persons, including two former employees of the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, Swapna Suresh and Sarith P S, have been arrested by the central agencies in connection with the case. PTI TGB SA APR RAVINDRANATH RAVINDRANATH APR RAVINDRANATH RAVINDRANATH