Kerala gold smuggling case: IAS officer shrugs off role in memoirs; Accused hits back, says he knew everything
The case of smuggling of gold through diplomatic baggage to the UAE Consulate here, which had rocked the previous LDF government, is back on the political debate table after key accused Swapna Suresh’s disclosures against senior IAS officer M Sivasankar, who was suspended as principal secretary to the CM when the scandal emerged in 2020.
While Sivasankar, in a book — extracts from it were published two days ago, in the Malayalam magazine ‘Pachakkuthira’ —has stated that he was shocked at hearing about Swapna’s links with the smuggling racket, and that the accused had purportedly sought his help, which he had turned down, Swapna has claimed that Sivasankar was privy to the content of the diplomatic baggage, from which 30 kg smuggled gold was seized by the Customs.
Sivasankar was last month reinstated as Principal Secretary, Sports and Youth Affairs, after being in suspension for a year- and-a-half.
In the excerpts published from his book, ‘Aswathamavu Verum Oru Aana’, (Ashwathamavu is just an elephant), which was released on Saturday, Sivasankar has stated that Swapna had allegedly sought his help twice to get the diplomatic baggage (which contained smuggled gold) cleared from the Customs, but he had refused to interfere. He claimed that he had informed her about his inability to interfere with the Customs.
Sivasankar also alleged that Swapna had bribed him by offering an iPhone as a gift on his birthday, and that he had not recommended Swapna’s name for appointment as a manager with Space Park, which is under the IT Department, an assertion the accused denied.
Hitting back at the IAS officer, Swapna said, “While the Customs probe into the smuggling was on, Sivasankar had advised me to go into hiding and asked me to seek anticipatory bail. When Customs detained the diplomatic baggage, he offered help and told me, ‘don’t worry’.”
About an audio clip, in which she was heard purportedly saying that Central agencies were exerting pressure on her to name Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the smuggling scandal, Swapna alleged that Sivasankar was behind the audio clip. While in judicial custody, a woman police officer had offered her a cellphone to record the audio, she claimed.
“It was recorded after Sivasankar promised that he would help me in the case,” she alleged.
On Sivasankar’s allegation that she had tried to bribe him with an iPhone as a gift, Swapna said, “…His writing (the memoirs) has pained me. I had been very sincere to him. I…respected him so much. I have limitations to expose more…. If he was a good IAS officer, why did he forget protocol and accept gifts?
She also alleged that Sivasankar “exploited me, used me, manipulated me…”
Swapna claimed that Sivasankar had asked her to quit her job at the Consulate and allegedly “arranged another job at the Space Park under the IT Department”.
She alleged, “After realising what had happened at the Consulate, Sivasankar wanted me to quit the job and suggested that I join Space Park. He knew I don’t have any certificate to produce for a job. He cannot deny that he was not aware of my appointment.”
She also claimed she never felt that Central investigating agencies had any plan to implicate SIvasankar in the case. “They brought before me facts and I could not deny them. The agencies had facts with them. They did not want to implicate anyone,’’
Various central agencies, including the Customs, NIA and ED, had probed into Sivasankar’s alleged role in the smuggling scandal. The ED had arrested him in connection with a case of alleged money laundering that had emerged during the probe into the smuggling.