Habitat's plan for Life Mission scheme was leaked to Swapna and gang: CBI

Swapna Suresh
Swapna Suresh

Kochi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has found that the plan prepared by Habitat for the Life Mission project in Wadakkancherry was leaked to Swapna Suresh and gang.   

The central agency stated this when the petitions filed by Life Mission and Unitac's owner opposing its investigations into the alleged irregularities in the housing scheme meant for the poor came up for hearing in the High Court.

CBI's arguments

Sandeep, Swapna and Sarith got the site plan and drawing prepared by Habitat Builders, the consultant for the Wadakkanchery project. This was passed on to Unitac. The plan and drawing submitted by Unitac for the project was the same as Habitat’s.

Swapna wanted 97 apartments to be built. She demanded a commission of 30 per cent and said 20 per cent of the commission was meant for the UAE Consul General. Swapna and Khalid, a UAE consulate official, demanded a commission of 30 lakh dirhams.

Unitac owner Santosh Eapen said the commission would be paid only after receiving in advance 40 per cent of the financial assistance the project was to get from the UAE-based Red Crescent. When the number of apartments was proposed to be increased from 100 to 140, he said he would not be able to pay the higher commission for more apartments.

The commission was later reduced. Swapna said 20 per cent would go to the Consul General. Her share was 6 per cent.

Santosh Eapen gave the Rs 3.8 crore demanded by Sapna. The money was received by Khalid. The money was taken in a vehicle with a blue number plate. He then called Swapna. She asked him to wait and then called him back after verifying that the amount was right. Then the bag in which the money was given was returned to him. 

After receiving the commission, Swapna arranged for a meeting between him and Sivasankar, the former principal secretary of the Chief Minister.

The government’s arguments

The Memorandum of Understanding for the Life Mission project was signed with Red Crescent.

It was Red Crescent that picked Unitac and Sane Ventures for the project and gave the construction contracts to them.

The financial transactions involving Red Crescent do not come under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).

Neither the government nor any of its employees received money from abroad in connection with the project.

This is not money laundering or hawala transactions.

It has to be first established that there was a violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act in the case.

The CBI invoked a law that does not apply to the case and built its arguments on the basis of that.

Unitac got to know about Life Mission scheme via a phone message

Kochi: The CBI has said that according to Santosh Eapen, he came to know about the contract for the Life Mission scheme through a Unitac employee who received a phone message in June last year.

After obtaining information about the contracts to be issued by the UAE Consulate, Unitac executives went to Thiruvananthapuram and met Sandeep Nair, one of the accused in the gold smuggling case.

Sandeep said 30 per cent of the commission should be paid in advance, but the company executives initially refused. They got a phone call two weeks later. The company’s executives then met Sarith Kumar, Sandeep Swapna at a hotel in Thiruvananthapuram.

Unitac owner Santosh Eapen told the investigating agencies that Swpana had assured him that since it was a state project being implemented with the financial assistance of the UAE government, he would get all the assistance from the Kerala government and that she would arrange for all the legal permissions.

Eapen went to the UAE towards the end of July 2019 and met the Consul General and showed the project documents. The Consul General directed that two contracts be prepared.

The two contracts were then drafted — one for Unitac and Developers for the construction of the apartments of the Life Mission housing complex in Wadakkanchery and another for its subsidiary Sane Ventures for construction of a hospital as part of the complex.

How can this be said to be a part of the tender process for the project, the CBI asked in the court. This was a secret transaction that took place without anyone’s knowledge. The MoU was just to hoodwink everyone, the CBI argued in the court.

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