Customs arrest M Sivasankar in gold smuggling case

Customs arrest Sivasankar in Kerala-UAE gold smuggling case

The IAS officer was suspended after his links to Suresh, a former employee of the consulate surfaced

M Sivasankar. Credit: PTI Photo

The Customs on Tuesday formally arrested suspended IAS officer M Sivasankar in connection with the sensational gold smuggling case. A day after a special court for PMLA cases granted it permission to arrest Sivasankar, who is currently in judicial custody, a team of officials from the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate reached the jail where he is lodged and recorded his arrest, sources said.

Sivasankar, former principal secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, is presently lodged in a jail here after being arrested by the Enforcement Directorate probing the money trail in the gold smuggling case. Soon after recording his arrest, the Customs filed a plea before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (Economic Offences), Ernakulam, seeking departmental custody of Sivasankar, who was the former principal secretary to Kerala Chief Minister.

In the remand report filed in the court, the Customs claimed that the key accused in the gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh, has revealed that Sivasankar was in the know and has also abetted the smuggling activities. The Customs said Suresh made this claim during her interrogation at the Attakkulangara Vanitha jail in Thiruvananthapuram, on November 18.

In an affidavit filed in the court seeking 10-day custody of Sivasankar, the Customs said further investigation is warranted to identify whether any more persons are involved in the smuggling of huge quantities of gold into India, which is a grave threat to the economy and national security. It said interrogation of Sivasankar is required to acquire clarity as to the modus operandi and details of the accomplices behind the smuggling activity, without delay.

Seeking the 10-day custody of Sivasankar, the Customs said it has become most essential for further progress of the investigation. On Monday, the Customs, in its prayer before the Special Court for PMLA cases seeking permission to arrest Sivasankar, had submitted that during the course of the investigation, it was able to get direct incriminating material against the officer of his involvement in the gold smuggling.

The Customs said it has arrested around 15 people, including prime accused Swapna Suresh, Sarith PS and Sandeep Nair, in connection with the seizure of 30 kg smuggled gold illicitly imported as diplomatic baggage of UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram on July 5. The agency has claimed that it has now come to light that Sivasankar, who has been arrayed as fifth accused in the case registered by the ED, is also involved in the issue. The move by the Customs came days after Sivasankar moved the Kerala High Court seeking bail in the ED case after the Special Court for PMLA cases here rejected his application for regular bail on November 17.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), the ED and the Customs are conducting separate investigations into the racket that was busted with the seizure of gold on July 5.

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