LIFE Mission case: M Sivasankar, Santhosh Eappen appear before court

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M Sivasankar and Santhosh Eappen | Photos: Mathrubhumi

Kochi: The trial proceedings regarding the alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act in the Kerala government's LIFE Mission project have commenced. The accused, M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, and Santhosh Eappen, a businessman based in Kochi, appeared before the court. However, Swapna Suresh, the former employee of the UAE Consulate, did not appear before the court.

Sivasankar appeared virtually while Eappen appeared in person. Swapna Suresh and others had given leave applications. The court will take up the matter again on June 23.

Sivasankar, the first accused was arrested on February 14 in connection with the case. Meanwhile, Santhosh Eappen, the seventh accused, was arrested by the agency on March 21.

LIFE Mission project was conceived by the Kerala government to provide houses for the homeless in the state. The alleged FCRA violation and corruption in the project had snowballed into a major political issue at the time with opposition parties accusing Swapna Suresh, the prime accused in the controversial gold smuggling case, of having admitted before an NIA court that she had received Rs 1 crore as commission for the project. She had reportedly claimed that the money was meant for Sivasankar.

As part of the project, the construction of a housing complex at Wadakkancherry was to be undertaken using funds offered by the international humanitarian organisation Red Crescent. The construction contract was awarded to Unitac Builders and Sane Ventures. The two companies undertook the construction based on an agreement that they entered into with Red Crescent, which had agreed to provide Rs 20 crore towards the Wadakkancherry project of Life Mission.

It has been alleged that Unitac builders gave kickbacks to Sivasankar and the Consul General of the UAE to get the contract. This came to light when former UAE Consulate employees Swapna Suresh and Sarith PS were arrested by the ED and Customs in another case related to the smuggling of gold into Kerala

With PTI inputs

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