Authority to call for any file: ED to Legislative Assembly Secretary

Unitac was engaged in Life Mission even without Red Crescent's knowledge

Kochi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has informed the Kerala Legislative Assembly Secretary that it has the authority to call for any file for scrutiny and that the Life Mission files are being examined to ensure transparency in the implementation of the project.

James Mathew MLA had given a complaint that the ED's action of seeking files was an infringement of the privileges of the Assembly. After the Ethics Committee of the Kerala Legislative Assembly sought an explanation on this, Assistant Director P Radhakrishnan submitted the reply.

As per the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the ED is exercising the powers of a civil court to probe the case. While citing the relevant sections of the Act, the ED pointed out that the state and central officers were liable to cooperate.

The issuance of the summons to the Life Mission CEO is not a breach of the privileges of the Legislative Assembly or its members. Life Mission, which is just an implementing agency of the government, does not have the immunity extended to the Legislative Assembly.

The notice served by the Assembly committee was based on 'misinformation' and without legal backing. The ED further said that it was not its objective to stall the Life Mission project or breach the privileges of the Assembly or its members.

Crores of rupees given as bribe?

The ED also informed the Legislative Assembly Secretary that it had found evidence of unholy nexus between senior officials and the accused while probing the money-laundering deals linked to gold smuggling. 

The officers also got information that crores of rupees were given as a bribe to secure the contract for projects implemented by the government agencies. Such bribery deals had taken place in the Life Mission project too, the ED has found. 

Thus, Life Mission CEO U V Jose was issued summons to submit the project's documents, Assistant Director P Radhakrishnan said in the reply.

The directive was given to submit the documents immediately, so as to conclude the probe at the earliest. The CEO has not conveyed any inconvenience in presenting the documents.

The ED further said that the Life Mission should take the probe as an opportunity to prove that it has nothing to hide in the money-laundering case.

Life Mission: CBI questions chartered accountant

Thiruvananthapuram: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the deals of Unitac in the Life Mission case, has questioned P Venugopal, the chartered accountant of M Sivasankar who was the Principal Secretary to the CM.

Venugopal has reportedly reiterated the statements he had made against Sivasankar to other agencies, according to sources. Venugopal had earlier deposed that it was on Sivasankar's instructions that he had opened the joint bank locker along with Swapna Suresh from which Rs 1 crore and gold were seized. Swapna is an accused in the gold smuggling case.

During the ED's questioning, both Swapna and Venugopal had given the same statements over the bank locker. Sivasankar had refuted several points but later accepted these.

Meanwhile, the CBI plans to question Sivasankar as soon as the High Court's temporary stay over the probe into the Life Mission case ends in the first week of December. If the High Court’s decision further opposes the probe, the agency is likely to approach the Supreme Court. 

Digital evidence; including WhatsApp chats between Sivasankar, Swapna and Venugopal; were collected from the ED and NIA and examined in detail at the CBI headquarters in Delhi. 

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