A special court on Wednesday extended by one more day the ED’s custody of M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister, arrested in connection with the alleged money laundering in the gold smuggling case.
Seeking further custody of Sivasankar, ED, in an affidavit, told the Principal Sessions Court in Ernakulam that Sivasankar and his team in the CMO were fully aware of smuggling of gold and other electronic items through diplomatic channel.
“While recording the statement of Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the gold smuggling and related cases, on November 10, she was shown certain WhatsApp messages exchanged between her and Sivasankar and she was asked to explain the contents. In reply, she has categorically stated that Sivasankar and his team in the CMO was fully aware of the gold smuggling and other electronic items done through diplomatic channel,” the ED said in the affidavit.
The ED’s revelation in the court assumes significance against the backdrop of the central agency issuing notice to the Chief Minister’s additional private secretary C M Raveendran in connection with the probe into the case. Raveendran, a longstanding confidant of senior CPI(M) leaders, including Pinarayi Vijayan and party state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, was to appear before the ED last Friday for giving his statement but it was postponed after he tested positive for Covid-19.
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After the ED issued notice to Raveendran and sought details of the state’s flagship projects Life Mission and Kerala Fibre Optical Network (KFON), the CPI(M)-led government stated that the action amounted to undermining development projects.
These projects were directly under the control of Sivasankar and ED had found that the IAS official had shared confidential details with parties outside for making pecuniary benefits.
The ED also told the court that an amount of Rs 1 crore, which had been earlier seized from the lockers belonging to Swapna, was meant as kickbacks to Sivasankar. He also shared crucial information with Swapna relating to KFON and LIFE Mission Projects.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that the ED report had exposed the claim of the Chief Minister that his office had no links with gold smugglers.
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