Kochi, Oct 29 (PTI) The Enforcement Directorate,
probing the money trail in the gold smuggling case, has
alleged multiple offences against M Sivasankar, former
principal secretary to the Chief Minister, arrested by it on
Wednesday night in connection with the sensational case.
The National Investigation Agency, Customs and the ED
are conducting separate investigations into the seizure of
gold worth nearly Rs 15 crore from a “diplomatic baggage” of
UAE consulate at Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5.
The ED has alleged that Sivasankar had intervened to
clear the diplomatic baggage containing smuggled gold without
examination by the Customs at the Thiruvananthapuram
international airport.
Sivasankar was remanded to the agency”s custody for
seven days by a court here today.

In its arrest order, the ED has claimed that
during his statement given to it on October 15, Sivasankar
admitted to having spoken to a senior Customs officer and made
the request as per the wishes of Swapna Suresh, prime accused
in the gold smuggling case.

“This clearly shows your active involvement
in the offences committed by Swapna Suresh,” the ED said in
the order.

The probe agency claimed that during its
investigation, it was revealed that he was involved in the
commission of a scheduled offence.

“Whatsapp chats between Sivasankar and
Swapna revealed that she has requested Sivasankar to intervene
with the Terminal Manager/Airport Authority/Customs Authority
for some work at the airport/ clearance of diplomatic baggage
without examination by the Customs,” it said.

The agency said this also amounts to misuse
of public office and interference in the official working of
other government departments.

It said analysis of whatsapp chats is also
indicative of the fact that Sivasankar, in his official
capacity, might have called for the clearance of other
diplomatic cargos as well including the ones containing
smuggled gold because nobody could tell what was inside such
diplomatic bags once cleared un-examined.

“It has been found that 21 consignments were
sent between 2019 and 2020 and Sivasankar”s involvement has
helped in the commission of the offence.

This clearly shows that you (Sivasankar) knowingly
assisted in the process of activity connected with the
proceeds of crime and therefore committed the offence of money
laundering,” the ED said.
The agency on Thursday sought 14 day custody of the
officer when he was produced before the Special PMLA court
here.
It said investigation under Prevention of Money
Laundering Act (PMLA) has revealed that a bank locker was
hired in State Bank of India, Thiruvananthapuram City branch
on November 30, 2018 jointly in the name of Swapna Suresh and
and his chartered accountant P Venugopal on the instructions
of Sivasankar.
The ED said Venugopal has also admitted
that Sivasankar wanted him to manage the finances of Swapna
Suresh.

Venugopal has submitted Whatsapp messages to that
effect.
Further, during the search conducted by NIA, an amount
of Rs 64 lakh was seized from this locker and Rs 36.50 lakh
from another locker in Federal Bank, statue branch,
Thiruvananthapuram.

This proceeds of crime was generated by
Swapna Suresh with the active support of Sivasankar,the ED
said.

When Sivasankar was confronted with these facts he
remained evasive and non-cooperative, the agency said while
seeking his custody.
Granting his seven days custody to the ED, the court
said the accused shall not be subjected to any sort of
harassment or torture while in enforcement custody.
He shall be given liberty to contact his lawyer and
there shall be a break for one hour if interrogation continues
for three hours,it said.
The court also directed that the interrogation shall
be done only from 9 am to 6 pm and there shall not be any
interrogation at all after 6 pm.

He shall be allowed to take rest after 6 pm, it added.
The court directed the investigating officer to ensure
all medical assistance to Sivasankar and provide ayurvedic
treatment to him for his back pain during the period of
custody without disturbing the interrogation process.
If necessary, he can be taken to the doctor even
after 6 pm, the court said after Sivasankar complained to the
judge about his disc prolapse issues. PTI TGB BN
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Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI


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