ED charge sheet in PMLA court: Swapna met Kerala CM 6 times (Ld)

Kochi, Oct 7 : The ED on Wednesday filed a charge sheet in a PMLA court in Ernakulam in its probe into the money trail in the gold smuggling case, triggering another slugfest in Kerala politics after it allegedly revealed that prime accused Swapna Suresh had met Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan six times.

The charge sheet was filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002 against PS Sarith, Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair in the District and Sessions Court (PMLA) in Ernakulam in the gold smuggling case. All three accused are in judicial custody since July.

The ED charge sheet quoted Swapna as saying that she had met Vijayan on six occasions in the presence of now-suspended IAS officer M Sivasankar and that the CM knew about her appointment in the Space Park on a salary of over Rs 1.50 lakh per month.

The Congress and the BJP leadership in the southern state were up in arms and demanded the resignation of Vijayan.

“Vijayan had said he had no clue of how she got a job in the Space Park, but the ED charge sheet says he was aware. Vijayan then said his office is not a haven for such people. That statement has since fallen flat and the onus is now on him to come clean,” state Congress President Mullapally Ramachandran said.

The over 300-page charge sheet includes Swapna’s statement that following her resignation from the UAE Consulate, she approached Sivasankar, then Principal Secretary to Vijayan and also IT Secretary, for a job.

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She was quoted as saying that he asked her to put in her CV with his reference to PriceWaterhouse Coopers and thereafter she went and met a top official of Space Park and soon got the job.

Swapna also allegedly said that Sivasankar had helped her financially and they were good friends and it was he who introduced her to chartered accountant Venugopal, who was asked to help her in financial dealings by opening fixed deposit accounts to the tune of Rs 20 lakh.

After the ED charge-sheeted Swapna Suresh and two others in a PMLA court in a money laundering case, state Congress President Mullapally Ramachandran on Wednesday demanded that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan come clean on gold smuggling case prime accused Swapna.

Referring to the charge sheet, Ramachandran alleged that Vijayan was aware of her new job in the state-owned Space Park, which directly comes under the CM’s charge.

“Vijayan had said he had no clue of how she got a job in the Space Park, but the ED charge sheet says he was aware. Vijayan then said his office is not a haven for such people. That statement has since fallen flat and the onus is now on him to come clean,” said Ramachandran.

“The charge sheet also claimed that she had met Vijayan along with his now-suspended Principal Secretary M Sivasankar six times. It is very serious. Vijayan’s credibility has taken a hit. So, one has to doubt if the so-called probe on how she got the job is in limbo due to such relations,” the Congress leader remarked.

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Swapna Suresh was arrested by the National Investigation Agency from Bengaluru in the gold smuggling case that surfaced in July.

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said that Vijayan had “no moral right to continue as he has now been proved to be a Chief Minister who speaks lies only”.

“A liar like him has no right to continue in office as that’s what the statement says,” said Chennithala.

State BJP President K Surendran said that as the truth was now out, Vijayan should quit immediately.

“Vijayan knew about her appointment in the Space Park and this clearly shows that he knew the accused in the gold smuggling case, contrary to what he said when the case first surfaced,” said Surendran.

The case relates to the seizure of 30 kg gold worth Rs 14.82 crore seized by Customs at the Trivandrum International Airport in a diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE Consulate office here on July 5. The consignment was allegedly to be received by accused Sarith, who had worked in the UAE Consulate earlier as Public Relations Officer.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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