Sivasankar the kingpin of money laundering deal, says ED on Life Mission case

Of the total money received as bribe, 1.90 lakh dollars was already sent abroad, the ED informed. Photo: Manorama

Kochi: M Sivasankar, the former private secretary of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, was the kingpin of a money laundering deal that had taken place in connection with the Life Mission scam, the Enforcement Directorate has informed the Kerala High Court.

The statement was made by the Additional Solicitor General R Shankara Narayanan during a hearing on the bail application filed by Sivasankar. Justice A Badaruddin postponed to Wednesday the further hearing in the case until after the lawyer representing the petitioner sought more time to present his response.

As per the case lodged by the ED, Santosh Eapen who is the owner of Unitac Builders gave a bribe of Rs 4.5 crore out of the total Rs 19 crore his firm had received from the UAE-based Red Crescent for obtaining the Life Mission contract. Sivasankar is arraigned as the ninth accused in the case. During interrogation, Eapen confessed to giving the commission to top officials in the Government as well as those in the UAE Consulate.

Of the total money received as a bribe, 1.90 lakh dollars was already sent abroad, the ED informed. The routes through which the money from the crime had been sent, should be investigated thoroughly. The activity of sending money received through gold smuggling and as bribe through the diplomatic channel after converting the same into dollar amounted to terrorism, the agency told the court.

Sivasankar, who held top positions in the state government, is likely to tamper with the evidence and obstruct investigation if released on bail, it cited. The ED also opposed his move to seek bail, citing ill health.

The court, meanwhile, orally asked whether the case on dollar smuggling could be investigated along with the case already registered. The ED, however, responded it was wrong to argue that another FIR had been registered on the basis of the same facts. According to it, the smuggling of gold through the diplomatic channel was different from the case of Life Mission bribery.

Swapna Suresh and the Chartered Accountant Venugopal opened a bank locker following a direction in this regard from Sivasankar. He is not cooperating with the investigation and is attempting to interpret a political motive behind the investigation against him, the ED briefed the court.

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