Kerala gold smuggling case: ED files chargesheet against 3 prime accused
The ED also made it clear in the interim chargesheet that a detailed investigation was needed against Sivashankar and its personnel were in the process of collecting more digital evidence. It said a supplementary chargesheet will be filed later.Updated: Oct 07, 2020, 21:42 IST
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday filed a chargesheet against three main accused in the Kerala gold smuggling case while one of them Swapna Suresh stated that her appointment in the Space Park was known to chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
She said she was asked to apply for the post by former secretary of the CM M Sivashankar and later he told her that he will discuss it with the CM and ensure her appointment. She also told the agency that she met the CM a number of times and she was also close to his secretary, the chargesheet indicated.
The ED also made it clear in the interim chargesheet that a detailed investigation was needed against Sivashankar and its personnel were in the process of collecting more digital evidence. It said a supplementary chargesheet will be filed later.
After the gold smuggling case surfaced, the CM reportedly distanced himself from his secretary saying he was not aware of the appointment of Suresh for the key post. Later, his secretary Sivashankar, a senior officer, was suspended from service. Opposition parties then alleged that the CM got away easily after sacrificing his secretary.
When Swapna Suresh resigned from the United Arab Emirates consulate she had applied for the job of Space Park Manager and she gave the reference of Sivashankar, the chargesheet said. And she applied for the job through consultant agency PricewaterCoopers as directed by Sivashankar. He also introduced chartered accountant Venugopal Iyer to her, the chargesheet said. During investigation, the ED had seized two kg gold and Rs one crore currency from the locker jointly operated by Iyer and Suresh. Later, it also came to light that some of the educational certificates of Suresh were fake.
The chargesheet also stated that the three main accused, Swapna Suresh, Sandeep Nair and Sarith, were involved in money-laundering and owned huge properties and their source of income was mysterious. The ED rushed with the chargesheet while all three got bail in the case registered by the Customs.
The gold smuggling case is being investigated by many agencies including the NIA. The current chargesheet was filed to avert the accused getting bail as they were under custody for more than 3 months.
At least 30 people were arrested in connection with the case which surfaced after the recovery of 30 kg gold from a consignment that came to the UAE consulate in the state capital camouflaged as diplomatic luggage. The court had criticized the NIA on Monday and sought evidence for terrorism charges against the accused. This is the first time UAPA was invoked in a smuggling case.