KOCHI: Arrest appears imminent for M Sivasankar with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) informing the Kerala High Court on Wednesday that a custodial interrogation of the former principal secretary is required to carry out a detailed investigation into his role in the gold smuggling case.
Three central agencies — the ED, the Customs and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) — are probing Sivasankar’s role in the smuggling of gold through the diplomatic channel. While the High Court has restrained the Customs and the ED from arresting Sivasankar till Friday, his petition seeking anticipatory bail in the NIA case will come up at the NIA Court on Thursday. Sources told TNIE the ED has in its possession the mirror images from digital devices of key accused Swapna Suresh.
ED: Sivasankar’s custodial interrogation necessary
The ED submitted before the court that Sivasankar’s alleged links with Swapna can be established only through custodial interrogation.In its statement through Special Public Prosecutor T A Unnikrishnan while opposing Sivasankar’s anticipatory bail plea, the ED said the bureaucrat participated in various activities with Swapna and others who have been booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. He is also linked to “serious economic offences” and hence his custodial interrogation is required. The ED also sought permission to hand over the materials collected against Sivasankar to the court.
Sivasankar had deposed before the ED that he had instructed his chartered accountant P Venugopal, who is known to him for more than 20 years, to help Swapna manage her finances. Venugopal had said Sivasankar came to his office with Swapna one day and introduced her, the ED’s statement said. Sivasankar asked Venugopal to open a joint locker with Swapna, which they did at an SBI branch in Thiruvananthapuram. The CA revealed that Sivasankar and Swapna reached his office again with a bag full of cash — `30 lakh. Venugopal was hesitant to handle such a huge amount, the ED said.
“Swapna tried to convince him that the cash came from genuine sources and asked him to keep it in the locker. All these discussions had happened in the presence of Sivasankar,” the agency added. “WhatsApp chat between Sivasankar and Swapna disclosed that she discussed everything with him,” the ED said. “Hence, the agency can’t believe his version that he was not aware that Swapna was making money through gold smuggling and by way of kickbacks.”