In autobiography, Swapna recounts unholy deals cut by Sivasankar for his masters

A photo of Sivasankar and Swapna from the autobiography

In her autobiography Swapna Suresh, the accused in the gold smuggling case that rocked Kerala politics recently, casts light on the unholy ties between politicians and administrators. She recounts how  Kerala Chief Minister’s former principal secretary M Sivasankar pushed several deals with an eye on kickbacks for himself and his political cronies.

"A huge network operating on a commission basis is functioning under Sivasankar. They all functioned as a single team from 2016 to 2020. The Chief Minister knew about all these deals and gave his nod to them. Commission was the key factor in all of them. I was in the dark about politics here till then, but such deals helped me get an idea of the same,"  Swapna states in the memoir titled ‘Chathiyude Padmavyooham’, published by Current Books, Thrissur.

She also narrates her experiences in jail in the book. “I was lodged in a nasty cell where a cat had just given birth to kittens and filled with the foul smell of decaying rat bones. Do the condemned cell inmates face such an awful situation? They wanted to drive me to suicide or paralyze me mentally.”

In the few translated parts of the books given below Swapna narrates how she was duped by Sivasankar to carry out his plans through the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram. She also reveals how the CM, his family members tried to set up an IT project in Sharjah.

Page 84

Illegitimate deals were executed within months of the opening of the Consulate. No single person was in a position to resist. As said earlier I thought the friendship with Sivasankar would secure me. He planned his Dubai trips around this time to implement different deals that fetched commissions. He wanted ‘X’ category security and frisking-free arrangements (at the airport). Though many of them were not allowed as per the rules, I arranged them for him.

Page 94

When the members of the Sharjah royal family arrived in Kerala to discuss various projects Sivasankar told it was an opportunity to bring forth CM's daughter Veena's plan to start an IT Hub in Sharjah. The then Chief Secretary, Sivasankar, the Chief Minister and his family members participated in the discussions over this at the Cliff House. I also paid an unofficial visit to the Cliff House to instruct Ms Kamala and M Veena regarding the protocols to be followed while welcoming the royal family members.

The Chief Minister’s daughter will get any prominent industrialist to sponsor an IT Hub abroad. But we talked about who could be the sponsor there and the likely deals.

If a member of the Sharjah royal family becomes the sponsor the place where this hub may come up will get unusual safety and security. Nobody will be able to enter there to detect secrets. That was the secret behind such a wish. An expensive gift box was also readied to present to Her Highness when they met her. But Cliff House was not included in the itinerary charted by the Foreign Ministry. The Royal Couple had to go straight to the Raj Bhavan. They were the guests of the Governor. It was under these circumstances that I rerouted the entourage of the Sheikh to Cliff House as per the directions of the CM and Sivasankar.

The CM's family met the royal family. It was agreed to implement many projects which were legal. However, the unusual interest shown by Kamala and her manners in the discussions on the private project of Veena making Her Highness its sponsor were not well received by Her Highness. She also did not accept the Jewel Gift Box that was offered. She avoided it saying that there was no precedence in her family to accept such gifts. She did not allow those discussions to continue. I was the one who escorted them during the visit. She told me about her dislike during that time.

Page 98

In 2018 when the floods devastated the State, Sivasankar cut several deals. He received a commission in the Life Mission Project at that time. Now a Vigilance inquiry is into it. He used this time to incubate many projects that are set to get foreign funding and projects that are to be started abroad. In each project, a substantial share, a percentage of the capital, was set apart for him. It was the remuneration for implementing the projects. That assured ready returns for him in the subsequent periods.

The UAE was the country visited by the most number of ministers. Several projects were planned during these visits. The move to collect funds abroad post the floods, and the projects for reconstruction were avenues for kickbacks running into crores. As a staff of the UAE Consulate, I could just become a silent witness to all such deals. I knew that unholy deals were taking place over the despatch of holy articles from the Gulf to Kerala. I discussed certain malpractices taking place there with Sivasankar sir. However, it didn’t bother him and he was only interested in implementing his projects. 

Page 99

Sarith and I were acquaintances and close friends as we were the Consulate staff. (The then) Speaker Sreeramakrishnan came to inaugurate Sandeep's firm called ‘Carbon Doctor’. There was a definite intention in bringing Sandeep, a habitual smuggler, to this group. Immediately after the inauguration, it was decided to award the firm the contract for the complete carbon detection of KSRTC buses. The deal was to decarbonize many vehicles; it was a grand avenue to turn black money into white and Sandeep can be used for smuggling as well. It was Sivasankar's project and he made it happen. 

The Chief Minister, his family, C M Raveendran, Nalini Netto, P Sreeramakrishnan, and K T Jaleel were the consignees of the Consulate in different matters. Unusually heavy biryani vessels found their way to Cliff House as a result of the deep ties between the Consulate and CM. Since these heavy vessels were covered with silver foils, nobody could detect what was inside. But the Consul General was perturbed as these vessels reached Cliff House. These things were executed under the strict direction and control of Sivasankar sir. He ensured police protection and special security for the vehicles that carried the biryani cauldron. When consignments started to flow one after the other, I suspected something was amiss. 

Page 102

I had already mentioned that I established a friendship with Sivasankar during the chief minister’s foreign trip in 2016. During the initial stage, favours were asked from the Consulate through the CM’s office. Besides ensuring all arrangements for the Chief Minister’s visit, the relationship was growing to that of handling risky assignments. We were demanding the safe landing of certain materials besides matters like the Chief Minister’s security and exemption from frisking. The Consulate General agreed to all these. Shortly after that, we were entrusted with bringing a bag that they forgot to take. The currency bag was flown in by sending a consulate employee as the special messenger. The Smart City project came after that. Each had a specific role to play and interests. Sivasankar was the IT Secretary too. There were moves to link all projects, related or otherwise, to the IT department. A lot of ‘give and take’ with the Gulf countries with respect to the incubation of projects, which already got the government nod, and related deals were happening at that time. 

The Arab in the Consulate too was initiating similar deals. The Consulate General started demanding certain favours in return for the many dealings done by Sivasankar, deputed by the Chief Minister, through the Consulate – mainly the ‘X’-category security and certain facilities beyond those extended to diplomatic officials on a normal course at the airport.

Page 104

Sivasankar succeeded in exerting much influence on the Consulate employees through me and his official position. There came a situation when Sivasankar could realise anything, legal or illegal, for the parties involved. He was the middleman employed by the Chief Minister for all matters.

It was Sivasankar who was behind the Space Park appointment and it had the nod of the Chief Minister. I was appointed as the Consultant of the State IT department as a temporary arrangement. All this he had done in a single day by making his own decisions. When I was appointed to the state IT department, Jayasankar too expressed a desire to have some government posting. Sivasankar, without any hesitation, appointed him to the K-Phone project. These appointments were made without considering the required qualifications. That the same was provided to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was only in documents. Sivasankar takes his own decisions and makes the appointments. He prepares and files all the required documents; hence the PwC and Exalogic Solutions faced no issues. In fact, they stood to gain. A sum of Rs 3 lakh per month was allocated for consultancy services. Out of this, I was receiving only about Rs 1.07 lakh only. The rest was paid to PwC and Exalogic in my name. This was the modus operandi.

Page 108

It was Sarith who went along with Sandeep to invite Sreeramakrishnan for the inauguration of ‘Carbon Doctor’ project. During the inauguration speech itself, he said the project should be linked with the IT department. All these are the topics being discussed in many parties. The projects, consultancies – all these are linked to the financial interests of those in power.

In other parts of the book Swapna writes:

“Sivasankar sold the database of people to an American company. Through that, the Chief Minister’s daughter Veena Vijayan amassed crores of rupees. On this issue, (the then) Health Minister Shylaja Teacher locked horns with Sivasankar. Sivasankar was aghast and livid over Shylaja Teacher taking such a stand. Today I understand that it was his (Sivasankar’s) need to befriend me, stooping to any level and paying any price. Moreover, it was a mission. CM (Pinarayi Vijayan) and family and many members of the Cabinet had several projects in the pipeline in the Arab countries. Sivasankar was tasked with the smooth implementation of the projects. I was the best intermediary he got in this task.”

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