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Reason to believe Sivasankar was real beneficiary of gold smuggling: ED tells Kerala HC

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

Kochi (Kerala) [India], October 23 (ANI): The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday submitted before the Kerala High Court that it has reason to believe that former principal secretary of the Kerala Chief Minister’s Office M Sivasankar was the real beneficiary of the gold smuggling.
The ED, while opposing the anticipatory bail plea of Sivasankar in the money laundering case related to the gold smuggling, also submitted that it has also come out in the probe that he was also receiving commissions for the same.
“We have reason to believe that Swapna Suresh was only a pawn and that Sivasankar was the real beneficiary. Swapna was completely under his control and strings were pulled by him. This is a possibility we are investigating,” economic offences watchdog submitted.
A single-judge bench of Justice Ashok Menon, after hearing arguments from all the sides, reserved the orders for October 28 in the two anticipatory bail applications on the case registered by the ED and the Customs department.
Interim protection from arrest will continue till then, the bench directed.
The ED further submitted that the investigation into the Kerala gold smuggling case has revealed that Sivasankar had contacted customs officials in Thiruvananthapuram airport for clearance of cargo and said there is a requirement of his custodial interrogation.
“He has been lying right, left and centre. Even when he was confronted with Whatsapp messages, he denied… Sivasankar was aware of the dealings of Swapna Suresh, prime accused in the gold smuggling case. He is not telling the truth during interrogation,” the ED submitted.
“He has active, total involvement. About Rs 64 lakhs seized from the locker. We have evidence that Rs 64 lakhs, proceeds of the crime, was sought to be converted and Sivasankar was actively involved in helping Swapna Suresh to do that,” it added.
The agency submitted that there are materials showing his involvement and added that Sivasankar introduced Swapna Suresh to a Chartered Accountant and helped her to open a bank locker to keep the money.
The ED said that Sivasankar was very close to Swapna and that they used to chat throughout the day. “Swapna used to tell him everything. It is highly unlikely that he was not aware of her dealings. It could be that the proceeds of the crime belong to Siva Sankar and Swapna was only a face. His conduct shows full involvement,” it submitted.
The Customs department, on the other hand, submitted that Sivasankar is elusive and evasaive while answering serious questions and added that if he is bail is granted, collection of evidence by customs will be hampered.
The case, which is currently being probed by the Enforcement Directorate, the National Investigation Agency and the Customs Department, pertains to the smuggling of gold in the state through diplomatic channels.
The matter had come to light after 30 kg gold worth Rs 14.82 crore, smuggled in a diplomatic cargo, was busted by the Customs in Thiruvananthapuram on July 5. (ANI)

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