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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Kerala gold smuggling case: ED to seek info on how audio clip recorded in jail

ED sources on Friday said it was a ploy by the accused to give political colour to the case and wriggle out of trouble. “First, the clip nowhere mentioned the Enforcement Directorate.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi | Updated: November 21, 2020 7:05:41 am
kerala gold smuggling case, swapna suresh, kerala gold smuggling racket, UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, gold smuggling case kerala swapna suresh, uae kerala gold smugglingIn the short voice clip, Swapna, who is in judicial custody, is purportedly heard saying she would be made an approver if she confessed that she went to UAE with M Sivasankar.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is writing to prison authorities in Kerala to seek details of how an audio clip in which a key accused in the gold smuggling case is purportedly heard suggesting that she is under pressure to implicate Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was recorded.

In the short voice clip, Swapna, who is in judicial custody, is purportedly heard saying she would be made an approver if she confessed that she went to UAE with M Sivasankar — former principal secretary to CM Pinarayi Vijayan and an accused in the case — for financial negotiations meant for the Chief Minister.

She is also heard purportedly saying that “they” did not allow her to read her statement, but scrolled through it and asked her to sign it.

ED sources on Friday said it was a ploy by the accused to give political colour to the case and wriggle out of trouble. “First, the clip nowhere mentioned the Enforcement Directorate. Two, how was this clip recorded in jail? We are writing to the chief of prisons in Kerala to give us details of circumstances in which this clip was recorded,” a senior ED official said.

As reported by the Indian Express, DGP (prisons) Rishiraj Singh said cyber police have been asked to examine the authenticity of the clip. DIG (prisons) Ajaya Kumar, who met Swapna after the clip emerged, said the voice was prima facie identified as that of her, but it was not recorded from the jail. She has said she didn’t know who recorded it, said Kumar.

Meanwhile, ED sources claimed they have got robust evidence against Sivasankar for alleged corruption in key flagship schemes of the state government.

“We have WhatsApp chats where the quote of key bidder, Unitac Builders, was sent to Swapna by Sivasankar before the award for the contract of Life Mission Project to the company. We have evidence to show that Swapna was asked to get in touch with the company,” the ED official said.

ED sources claimed that recovery of Rs 60 lakh from a locker in SBI’s Thiruvananthapuram branch is linked to the project. The locker is jointly owned by Swapna and chartered accountant Venugopal. “Venugopal has said in his statement to us that he was holding the locker on behalf of Sivasankar. We suspect it to be kickbacks for the Life Mission Project deal. We are also probing various other government projects where Sivasankar was involved,” the ED official said.

In a related development, the National Investigation Agency on Friday conducted searches at five locations in Kerala in connection with its probe into the gold smuggling case. The searches were conducted at premises associated with accused Mohammed Aslam, Abdul Lateef, Nazaruddin Sha, Ramzan P and Mohammed Mansoor.

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