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UAE Consul General directed construction company representatives to meet Sivakankar: ED tells court

ANI | Updated: Aug 19, 2020 04:40 IST

Kochi (Kerala) [India], Aug 19 (ANI): The UAE Consul General directed the representatives of a construction company which undertook work on an apartment complex under the Kerala government's Life Mission project to meet M Sivasankar, who was the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister's Office (CMO), Enforcement Directorate (ED) told a special court on Tuesday.
The submission was made when the Special Court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was considering the bail plea of prime accused Swapna Suresh in the Kerala gold smuggling case.
''Swapna alone received six per cent commission from the Kochi-based construction company Unitac Builders for getting the Life Mission housing project in Thrissur. The Thrissur project was sponsored by the charity organization Red Crescent through the UAE consulate. When Unitac representatives met the UAE Consul General, he directed them to meet Sivasankar. Investigation into this aspect was still on," ED Special Prosecutor TA Unnikrishnan submitted before the court.
The ED also claimed that money and gold found in the lockers of Swapna were proceeds of crime from gold smuggling.
"Swapna was not financially sound and Sivasankar lent money to her twice. This was also corroborated by the fact that her bank statements showed she could not afford to buy the 120 sovereigns of gold found in the lockers. The amount and gold seized from the bank locker of the accused are inconsistent with the statement of the accused. The purpose of operation of the bank locker does not match the contents of the locker. The persons who knowingly assisted her money laundering have to be further examined in detail," the ED said.

On the other hand, Swapna's counsel Geo Paul submitted that cash found in the locker of Swapna was received as "commissions, not proceeds of crime".
"Unitac Builders paid a commission to the Consul General for the Life Mission project and an amount from it was given to Swapna as a gift. She selected the construction company for the project. Similarly, she received a commission for appointing two agencies for visa stamping, attestation and certificate verification procedure at the Consulate. She also received a commission for selecting a company for interior works of the UAE consulate in Hyderabad,'' Paul said.
On this, the judge asked whether anyone gives cash as a gift and questioned why the money was kept in a locker instead of depositing in a bank account.
''Swapna never attended an event in which the Kerala CM took part in the UAE. Her purpose for visiting the UAE when the CM also was there was to settle issues related to the properties of her deceased father. Her father worked at a Sheikh's palace for 34 years. Swapna received 620 sovereigns of gold on her marriage 20 years ago. Now only 120 sovereigns of gold ornaments remain which she kept for her daughter's marriage. She was working in high positions since the age of 19 and her husband also draws more than Rs one lakh as salary,'' Paul told the court.
The ED also submitted the case diary at the court as evidence against the accused found during their probe.
The matter, which pertains to the smuggling of gold in the state through diplomatic channels, had come to light after 30 kg gold worth Rs 14.82 crores, smuggled in a consignment camouflaged as diplomatic baggage, was busted by customs in Thiruvananthapuram on July 5. (ANI)