The National Investigation Agency probing the sensational gold smuggling case in Kerala questioned suspended senior IAS officer M Sivasankar for over 10 hours on Tuesday before he was allowed to leave its office late in the evening.
The former principal secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan appeared before the probe agency at its office at around 10 am and left the place at 8.30 pm after the marathon questioning carried out for the second consecutive day.
Sivasankar, who was asked to stay back at Kochi after the questioning on Monday, was allowed to go back to his hometown Thiruvananthapuram. Sivasankar's lawyer said his understanding is that the top bureaucrat has left for Thiruvananthapuram after today's quizzing.
The lawyer, however, said the investigation agency probing the case can summon any person it wanted to investigate. Investigation is only in the initial stage , his lawyer said and added that the bureaucrat will continue to co-operate with the NIA probe.
This is the third time in the past one week that NIA grilled the officer, removed as Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the state IT Secretary after allegations of his link with a key woman accused in the case surfaced. Sivasankar, who was questioned for nearly nine hours on Monday, was directed by the NIA to appear before the team again this morning.
Earlier on July 23, Sivasankar was questioned for five hours by the NIA team at the Peroorkada police club in Thiruvananthapuram. The Customs department had also questioned him earlier. Action was taken against Sivasankar after allegations surfaced that he had links with Swapna Suresh, the key accused in the case related to the attempt to smuggle gold through diplomatic baggage using the name of a person in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.
The Customs seized the gold, weighing over 30 kg andvalued at around Rs 15 crore on July 5.
The NIA, which has been entrusted with the probe into the case, has booked Suresh and three others — Sarith, Sandeep Nair and Faizal Fareed– under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Suresh and Sarith were former employees of the UAE consulate and allegedly used their past connection to smuggle gold using the diplomatic channel.