The money trail in the Kerala-UAE gold smuggling case has brought Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office in focus with the Enforcement Directorate . tracking alleged payoffs of Rs 4 crore in the CM’s Life Mission project — a housing scheme for flood displaced and landless citizens — to his former principal secretary M Sivasankar and associates.Sivasankar has been arrested and is presently in ED custody. He is being questioned on the alleged bribes received in the project and the contract awarded to Kochi-based Unitac builders, according to sources. The ED is tracking the IAS officer to a Rs 60 lakh recovery from SBI’s Thiruvananthapuram branch.The huge cash is alleged to be part of payoffs deposited in the bank account jointly operated by gold scam main accused Swapna Suresh and Sivasankar’s chartered accountant Venugopal. The questioning of other accused have revealed that Sivasankar had escorted Swapna Suresh to his CA Venugopal’s residence and office twice and operations to launder the “proceeds of crime” are being scrutinised.On the day Unitac Builders got a contract for a housing project under the Life Mission, messages were exchanged between Sivasankar and Swapna Suresh over WhatsApp,” sources said. The ED has collected the evidence as part of its probe against the gold smuggling accused and the alleged involvement of the CM’s office in the bribery case.
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