Wednesday, November 29, 2023

LIFE Mission case: Former principal secretary to Kerala CMO hospitalised

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M Sivasankar, former senior secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), was sent to a hospital on Saturday after being detained by the ED in connection with the LIFE Mission case. According to authorities, he was brought to Ernakulam Medical College after experiencing acute knee pain in his right leg and may be treated there.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in the case prolonged M Sivasankar’s judicial detention till March 21. On February 14, he was apprehended by Enforcement Directorate agents. His arrest is the first in the investigation, which involves the state government’s LIFE Mission initiative, which aimed to offer houses to the needy who lost their homes in the 2018 floods.

The housing project was proposed in the Thrissur district of Vaddakanchery. The initiative planned to spend Rs 14.50 crore of the Rs 18.50 crore provided by the Red Crescent via the UAE consulate to build dwellings for 140 households in Vadakkanchery.

The deal specified that the remaining funds would be used to build a healthcare center. The ED stated that Sivasankar (60) and others received improper monetary benefits in the shape of bribes when the contract for building residences under the LIFE Mission initiative was awarded.

The remand report filed by the ED before the PMLA Court on February 16 against M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to the Kerala CMO in the LIFE Mission Fraud Case, showed several WhatsApp talks between him and another accused Swapna Suresh.

According to the remand report, there is a greater link involving government agents in contract distribution and the generating of proceeds of crime via the upfront commission as a bribe.

“In his WhatsApp message sent to Swapna on July 31, 2019, Sivasankar warned Swapna to be very careful and asked them to take care. In his WhatsApp message, Sivasankar told Swapna not to get involved and warned her that if something goes wrong, they would put blame on her. He also told Swapna to keep away from the process to which Swapna replied that she would give it to Sarith and Khalid (other suspects in the case). Sivasankar also told Swapna that CM had asked him to get a job for Swapna,” the remand report read.

According to the report, material evidence such as the WhatsApp conversation between Swapna Suresh and Sivasankar, as well as Suresh’s statement, clearly indicate that there is a larger nexus involving government representatives in the allocation of contracts and the generation of proceeds of crime via the upfront commission as a bribe.

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