Kochi: Kerala chief minister’s former principal secretary M Sivasankar who was arrested in a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case linked to gold smuggling has moved the Kerala High Court for bail. In his plea he claimed that the money found in the bank locker of his close associate Swapna Suresh was a tip she had received from the head of an overseas country!
Sivasankar filed the plea in the high court after the principal sessions court here denied him bail.
Investigations centred around a bank locker jointly operated by Sivasankar's friend and accused Swapna and his Chartered Accountant have reportedly helped to unfold the bureaucrat's likely complicity in the activities of the diplomatic gold smuggling racket and his receipt of a Rs 1 crore kickback over a state government project.
Early probe came to the conclusion that the money stashed in the locker belonged to Sivasankar. Swapna had deposed to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) that the money kept in the locker was in fact the commission received by Sivasankar over the LIFE Mission project.
However, in his bail application Sivasankar has pointed out that he was arrested on October 28 and the investigating agency has not got any evidence to prove his link with gold smuggling or money laundering.
The money recovered from the locker was the tip received by Swapna from the Head of the State of an overseas nation. The ED is trying to mislead the court by selectively using certain whatsapp messages, the plea said.
The petition further said that he had cooperated fully with the probe carried out by all central agencies. ED has questioned me for more than 50 hours over several days, Sivasankar stated.
Swapna's bank lockers were seized after the Customs and NIA registered cases against her in connection with gold smuggling.
The Customs had unearthed the gold smuggling case in July. PS Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, was initially arrested over his alleged bid to help smuggle 30 kg gold in diplomatic baggage. Soon, the role of Swapna and her links to Sivasankar too came to light and both were arrested in the course of the probe.