Pressured by ED to name politicians, Sivasankar tells court

Counsel of M. Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, filed an argument note at the Principal Sessions Court, Ernakulam, on Monday alleging that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had exerted pressure on the bureaucrat to name a few political targets of its choice, which he refused to oblige.

The allegations related to the kickbacks received by Mr. Sivasankar in the LIFE Mission project at Wadakkanchery were also baseless, the note said. It pointed out that the evidence from WhatsApp chats presented by the ED were only half-truths and lies to mislead the court.

The ED reiterated that its investigation had clearly established the role of Mr. Sivasankar in the diplomatic channel gold smuggling case. The agency is looking into whether he had received kickbacks for projects like the Kerala Fibre Optics Network and SmartCity Kochi. Mr. Sivasankar had shared confidential details about these projects with Swapna Suresh, an accused in the gold smuggling case. The WhatsApp chats between him and Swapna proved his involvement in the gold smuggling case and receipt of kickbacks in the LIFE Mission project, it said.

Customs’ questioning

The Customs (Preventive) on Monday questioned Mr. Sivasankar in connection with its probe into the gold smuggling case. The investigating team reached the Kakkanad sub-jail in the afternoon where Mr. Sivasankar is in judicial remand and took his statement. The Principal Sessions Court had earlier cleared the request by the Customs to question him.

The Customs, which had referred to Mr. Sivasankar as a person of interest in its probe, decided to further interrogate him after the ED informed the court that he was the mastermind behind the gold smuggling. The agency had stated that the money seized from the bank locker of Swapna was bribe meant for Mr. Sivasankar in the LIFE Mission project. The Customs sleuths remained tight-lipped on whether they had received evidence to nail Mr. Sivasankar as an accused in its case.