A special court for PMLA cases here on Monday granted permission to the Customs to arrest suspended IAS officer M Sivasankar, who is currently in judicial custody, in connection with the Kerala gold smuggling case. The court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) allowed the prayer by the Customs, which claimed it has got direct incriminating material against Sivasankar over his 'involvement' in the sensational smuggling of gold using diplomatic channel.
Sivasankar, former principal secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, is presently lodged in a jail here after being arrested by the Enforcement Directorate probing the money trail in the gold smuggling case. "The Customs, during the course of investigation has now been able to get direct incriminating material against Sivasankar of his involvement and being concerned in smuggling of gold illegally which is an offence under the Customs Act, 1962.
"It has, therefore, become necessary to subject him to custodial interrogation after arresting him. This is highly necessary for the smooth progress of the investigation," The Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate said in its petition. The Customs said it has arrested around 15 people, including prime accused Swapna Suresh, Sarith PS and Sandeep Nair, in connection with the seizure of 30 kg smuggled gold illicitly imported as diplomatic baggage of UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram on July 5.
The agency said it has now come to light that Sivasankar, who has been arrayed as fifth accused in the case registered by the ED, is also involved in the issue. "However, the Customs is yet to determine the actual involvement. So he is now a suspected accused", the Customs said in the petition.
The move by the Customs came days after Sivasankar moved the Kerala High Court seeking bail in the ED case after the Special Court for PMLA cases here rejected his application for regular bail on November 17. Declining bail, special court Judge Kauser Edappagath had noted the investigation was at a crucial stage and the ED may require further time to collect all the materials, particularly related to the alleged nexus of the petitioner with the crime.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), the ED and the Customs are conducting separate investigations into the racket that was busted with the seizure of gold on July 5. The IAS officer was suspended after his links to Suresh, a former employee of the consulate, surfaced.