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Union Minister V Muraleedharan (File Photo)
Union Minister V Muraleedharan (File Photo)

Gold smuggling case: Union Minister Muraleedharan demands resignation of Kerala CM

ANI | Updated: Oct 07, 2020 20:35 IST

New Delhi [India], October 7 (ANI): Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan on Wednesday said that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should resign and submit himself to investigation in the Kerala gold smuggling case.
In a tweet, citing a media report, Muraleedharan said, "ED Chargesheet in Kerala Gold Scam exposed the nexus between @VijayanPinarayi and smugglers, confirmed @CMOKerala's role in Swapna Suresh's appointment in Space Park. @VijayanPinarayi should resign and submit himself for investigation. Kerala cannot continue with this CM anymore."
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday submitted a chargesheet in connection with the high-profile Kerala gold smuggling case in a special (PMLA) court in Kochi and submitted that the role of M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister's Office, needs to be thoroughly investigated.
In its chargesheet, the ED said that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was aware of the appointment of second accused Swapna Suresh in the Space Park of the Kerala IT department.
However, Vijayan during his press meets had repeatedly denied it.
Further, the ED said Swapna and Sivasankar had met several times and even met in the presence of the Chief Minister five or six times.
"She (Swapna Suresh) was selected in Space Park as she was close to M Svasankar. Her appointment with the Space Park was in the knowledge of the Chief Minister of Kerala. She told that Venugopal, Charted Accountant was referred to her by Sivasankar to manage her funds and she trusted Sivasankar," ED said in the chargesheet detailing on statement recorded of Swapna.
It said that she further stated that Ramees had approached her and Sarith for smuggling gold and they decided to smuggle gold and arranged for two trial consignments.

"For the trial consignments, Sarith had forged the required documents. After clearance, she and Sarith handed over the gold to Sandeep. The gold was smuggled through the Trivandrum Airport on 21 occasions," the chargesheet said.
Further, ED said that Sivasankar had helped Swapna open a bank locker and had introduced her to his Charted Accountant P Venugopal along with whom Swapna operated the bank locker.
On the statement of Venugopal, the investigation agency said, "He said that he has known M Sivasankar for the last 25 years. Sivasankar introduced Swapna Suresh to him and asked him to advise her on financial matters. Swapna said that she was getting around Rs 30 lakh by cash and wanted his help in putting the cash in fixed deposits; that he advised against putting in fixed deposits; then, she said that she would put the cash in the locker."
"Sivasankar asked him to open a locker in joint name with her and he opened a joint locker with Swapna. The money was kept in the locker and he (Venugopal) was holding the key. In three to four tranches, the money was taken by him from the locker and given it to her," the ED said.
According to the chargesheet, Venugopal also stated that when the locker was empty, the passbook and the key of the locker was returned to Swapna.
"When he had asked her to close the locker, she told that she had kept some gold in it. Further, he stated that though Sivasankar messaged him that he was sending Rs 35 lakh, he sent Rs 30 lakh only. He received the money at his residence from Swapna one day before opening a locker. He kept Sivasankar informed about operations in the locker as the locker was opened on his instruction," the ED said.
The ED, in its charge sheet, said that Sivasankar was a key person in the present government and his role has to be investigated in the entire episode. The mirror image of the electronic evidence also has to be confronted with him as well as other accused persons, the ED submitted.
The Kerala gold smuggling case, which is being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Enforcement Directorate, and the Customs department, pertains to the smuggling of gold in the state through diplomatic channels.
The matter had come to light after 30 kg gold worth Rs 14.82 crores smuggled in a consignment camouflaged as diplomatic baggage was busted by the Customs in Thiruvananthapuram on July 5. (ANI)