Kochi: M Sivasankar, former principal secretary of the Kerala Chief Minister’s Office, was on Thursday sent to seven-day custody of the Enforcement Directorate by a principal sessions court here in connection with the Kerala gold smuggling case.
During the hearing, the ED had sought 14-day custody of Sivasankar, who was produced before the court here, a day after he was taken into custody by the economic offences watchdog.
The ED also informed the court that Sivasankar is the fifth accused in the money laundering case related to the smuggling of gold into the state through diplomatic channels.
Meanwhile, the agency also made public the order for the arrest of Sivasankar. The agency said that Whatsapp chats between Sivasankar and accused Swapna Suresh revealed that she has requested Sivasankar to intervene with the Terminal Manager, Airport Authority, Customs Authority for some work at the airport and clearance of diplomatic baggage without examination by the Customs officials.
“Sivasankar accepted to have spoken to a senior Customs officer and made the request as per the wishes to Swapna Suresh. This clearly shows your active involvement in the offences committed by Swapna. This also amounts to misuse of public office and interference in the official working of other government departments,” the ED said in the arrest order.
It said that the analysis of Whatsapp chats is also indicative of the fact that Sivasankar, in his official capacity, might have called for the clearance of other diplomatic cargos as well including the ones containing smuggled gold because nobody could tell what was inside such diplomatic bags once cleared un-examined.
“It has been found that 21 consignments were sent between 2019 and 2020 and Sivasankar’s involvement has helped in the commission of the offence. This clearly shows that Sivasankar knowingly assisted in the process of activity connected with the proceeds of crime and therefore committed the offence of money laundering,” it said.
“It is clear that Sivasankar has an interest in the finances of Swapna, the prime accused which includes the proceeds of crime seized by NIA from her locker and it is even possible that the proceeds of crime belong to Sivasankar,” it added.
Sivasankar was yesterday brought to ED office in Kochi here for questioning after being taken into custody. Earlier, the Kerala High Court had refused to grant anticipatory bail to Sivasankar in connection with the cases being probed by the ED and the Customs department.