Customs arrests Sivasankar, seeks custody to grill him on Swapna’s statement

Customs to record Sivasankar's arrest in gold smuggling case today

Kochi: The Customs has sought a 10-day custody of M Sivasankar for further interrogation in the sensational gold smuggling scam. The Customs on Tuesday filed a plea before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (Economic Offences), Ernakulam, seeking departmental custody of Sivasankar, former principal secretary to Kerala chief minister, soon after his arrest was recorded.

The Customs, in the remand report, says it wants to question the senior IAS officer in detail based on the statement of Swapnan Suresh, the key accused in the gold smuggling case, that Sivasankar was in the know and has also abetted the smuggling activities. The Customs said Suresh made this claim during her interrogation at the Attakkulangara Vanitha jail in Thiruvananthapuram, on November 18.

The Customs said further investigation is warranted to identify whether any more persons are involved in the smuggling of huge quantities of gold into India, which is a grave threat to the economy and national security.

A day after a special court for PMLA cases granted it permission to arrest Sivasankar, who is currently in judicial custody, a team of officials from the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate reached the jail where he is lodged and recorded his arrest, sources said.

Sivasankar is presently lodged in a jail here after being arrested by the Enforcement Directorate probing the money trail in the gold smuggling case.

Swapna Suresh
Swapna Suresh

On Monday, the Customs, in its prayer before the Special court for PMLA cases seeking permission to arrest Sivasankar, had submitted that during the course of investigation, it was able to get direct incriminating material against the officer of his involvement in the gold smuggling. The Customs said it has arrested around 15 people, including prime accused Swapna Suresh, Sarith PS and Sandeep Nair, in connection with the seizure of 30 kg smuggled gold illicitly imported as diplomatic baggage of UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram on July 5.

The agency has claimed that it has now come to light that Sivasankar, who has been arrayed as fifth accused in the case registered by the ED, is also involved in the issue.

The move by the Customs came days after Sivasankar moved the Kerala High Court seeking bail in the ED case after the Special Court for PMLA cases here rejected his application for regular bail on November 17.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), the ED and the Customs are conducting separate investigations into the racket that was busted with the seizure of gold on July 5.

The IAS officer was suspended after his links to Suresh, a former employee of the consulate, surfaced.

Kerala High Court
Kerala High Court
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