M Sivasankar | Photo: Binu Lal G/ Mathrubhumi
Kochi: The Enforcement Directorate arrested M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to the Kerala chief minister, in connection with the case pertaining to the alleged LIFE Mission scam.
It is his third arrest connected to the diplomatic baggage gold smuggling case of 2020 and the first arrest in the Life Mission case. The ED has been questioning the retired IAS officer for the last three days. The arrest was made around 11 pm on Tuesday.
The case pertains to one project of the state government's LIFE Mission scheme, which intends to build houses for 140 families in Wadakkanchery in Thrissur district by spending Rs 14.5 crore out of Rs 18.5 crore granted by the Red Crescent via the UAE consulate.
The contract noted the construction of a health care centre using the remaining amount. Contractor, Unitac managing director Santhosh Eapan, had stated that the accused including Swapna Suresh had received a bribe worth Rs 3.8 crore for the project.
Swapna had earlier given statement that she had received Rs 1 crore as commission from the project. As per the contract signed, the builder was to be chosen by Life Mission and the UAE-based Red Crescent which was funding the project. But the UAE Consulate General sabotaged this contract condition and appointed Unitac Builders, the probe agencies say. Swapna allegedly used her friendship with Sivasankar to ensure the scheme was carried out.
Accused Swapna Suresh and Sarith PS made allegations against Sivasankar that he had a hand in this. ED had questioned Swapna and Sarith in the case last month.
Sivasankar was given notice to appear for questioning on January 31. However, this was postponed to Monday since it was his retirement day.
He was released from jail two years ago after spending 98 days behind bars in three cases. ED has charged him for allegedly making black money transactions, smuggling foreign currency notes and accepting bribes in the Life Mission case. Besides, CBI has charged the officer under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act in the case related to the Life Mission project. He has received bail in all other cases. NIA has not charged the officer it its case related to the gold smuggling.
With agency inputs