Bail petition of Kerala CM’s former secy rejected in Life Mission case | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Bail petition of Kerala CM’s former secy rejected in Life Mission case

By, Thiruvananthapuram
Mar 03, 2023 01:26 AM IST

Alleged kickbacks in the Life Mission project came to light when central agencies were investigating the gold smuggling case in which 30 kg of smuggled gold was seized from the UAE consulate in the state capital in June 2020

A special court dealing with the cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in Kochi rejected the bail petition of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s former principal secretary M Sivasankar on Thursday. He is currently under judicial custody till March 8.

On February 15, the Enforcement Directorate arrested M Sivasankar, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s former principal secretary, in connection with the alleged irregularities in Lfe Mission project, a government scheme to provide houses for the poor (PTI)
On February 15, the Enforcement Directorate arrested M Sivasankar, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s former principal secretary, in connection with the alleged irregularities in Lfe Mission project, a government scheme to provide houses for the poor (PTI)

On February 15, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested in connection with the alleged irregularities in the LifMission project, a state government scheme to provide houses for the poor.

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The ED on Thursday opposed his bail, saying that the case was in the initial stages and releasing him at this juncture will affect the ongoing probe.

The agency also said there was strong evidence against him, and he may influence witnesses and others if released.

However, the former bureaucrat, who was once very close to CM Vijayan, contended that he was implicated based on unfounded accusations and charges.

He said he had no role in the bribery case and sought bail as he was facing many health problems.

At this point, the federal agency said he was getting proper medical attention. It also said the CM’s additional private secretary C M Raveendran was also summoned next week, and it has to interrogate both to “take the case to next level”.

After hearing both sides in detail, the court rejected Sivasankar’s bail petition. His lawyers said they would move the Kerala high court soon.

Arrested on February 15, Sivasankar was in the custody of the ED for nine days and later remanded to judicial custody.

In 2020, he was in jail for almost three months after the gold smuggling case came to light. Besides the ED case, he was also an accused in customs and CBI cases.

Alleged kickbacks in the Life Mission project came to light when central agencies were investigating the gold smuggling case in which 30 kg of smuggled gold was seized from the UAE consulate in the state capital in June 2020. After the lockers of the main accused in the smuggling case Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the consulate, were opened, agencies found 1 crore cash and 2 kg gold. Later, she reportedly told them that currency was the commission received for clinching a deal with the international aid agency “Red Crescent” for building a flat in Thrissur for the flood-affected.

Agencies found that out of 18.50 crore accepted from the Red Crescent, 4 crore allegedly siphoned off to middlemen, officials and some employees of the UAE consulate as commission.

Swapna told agencies that Sivasankar asked her to keep his commission in her locker. Though he denied this and said he was implicated by gold smugglers, Swapna raised serious allegations against Raveendran and Sivasankar, saying that both were party to all deals and later they put the whole blame on her.

On February 16, the remand report submitted by ED in the PMLA Court against Sivasankar in the LIFE Mission scam case revealed some WhatsApp chats between him and the other accused, Swapna Suresh.

The remand report alleged that there is a larger nexus involving government representatives in the allocation of contracts and the generation of proceeds of crime via the upfront commission as a bribe.

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