Kerala Prime Minister’s Office Knew About Gold Smuggling – Probe Agency
Prime Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s private secretary, M Sivasankar, and some officials from the CM office were aware of the smuggling activities, the Enforcement Directorate reported to the special court in Kochi on Wednesday. This is the first time that the central agency has appointed the CM office in connection with the Kerala gold smuggling case.
The DE said that the main defendant in the smuggling case, Swapna Suresh, had disclosed this information during his questioning.
Last week, the Emergency Department had summoned Raveendran, CM’s additional secretary, but she was unable to appear after she tested positive for Covid-19. According to officials, who are part of the multi-agency investigation, Raveendran was subpoenaed based on statements from Sivasankar and Suresh. Leader of the Kannur (North Kerala) party, Raveendran was very close to the CM and was previously under the command of many ministers.
In the pre-trial detention statement, the DE also said that Sivasankar was aware of bribery in many government dream projects such as Life Mission and KFON. It also leaked vital project details and other information to companies competing for the projects, the ED added.
“Sivasankar shared confidential information with Suresh related to many key projects. There could be potential kickbacks for certain private parties. It is no coincidence that I know all the main defendants in the gold smuggling case, ”the statement said.
The latest report will cause problems for the CM office, which distanced itself from Sivasankar after his arrest. He said that “Sivasankar and some officials of the CM team were fully aware of the illegal activities.”
Subsequently, the court extended his custody for one more day. His release on bail will be filed in court on November 12.
While investigating the gold smuggling case, investigating agencies also found alleged irregularities and commissions on some other projects. When Sivasankar was arrested on October 28, the government quickly distanced itself from him, but in Raveendran’s case it will be difficult for the party to fire him. Besides the government, the party is also in serious trouble after the arrest of Kodiyeri Balakrishnan secretary’s son, Bineesh Kodiyeri, in connection with the Bengaluru drug case.
While opposition parties stepped up pressure for the CM’s resignation, the ruling CPI (M) said it was a measure aimed at destabilizing the government.
“It turned out beyond any doubt that CM’s office was reduced to a den of smugglers and scammers,” said opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala. But the ruling party fell heavily on the central agencies. “It is a political movement aimed at stalling development projects in the state,” party leader A Vijayaraghavan said.
The smuggling case came to light on July 5 after the seizure of 30kg of smuggled yellow metal from a shipment disguised as a diplomatic consignment. A multi-agency team led by the NIA is investigating the case and 34 people have been arrested so far.