Friday, July 24, 2020

Kerala gold smuggling case: NIA sleuths question Sivasankar

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday questioned M. Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, in connection with its probe into the smuggling of gold into the country via air cargo shipments addressed to the consulate of the United Arab Emirates here.
The optics of Mr. Sivasankar’s arrival at the Police Club, the temporary seat of the NIA team, seemed to create the perception that the agency’s high-profile probe had come awkwardly close to the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO).
When pressed at his daily COVID-19 news briefing, Mr. Vijayan made light of the development. “The NIA is on the right track. Why should we dwell upon the probe? Let the agency strike its own course,” he said.

Mr. Sivasankar, who was escorted into the building by NIA officials at 4.30 p.m., remained cooped up indoors with investigators till 9 p.m.
A State police official privy to the NIA’s procedure said the process of recording Mr. Sivasankar's statement was protracted. He said the long hours spend with the investigators were no indication of guilt. The NIA had a lot of ground to cover. The Customs had also questioned Mr. Sivasankar for several hours last week.

Mr. Sivasankar's alleged association with Swapna Suresh, second accused in the case, had cast him into the vortex of two parallel probes, one by the Customs and the other by the NIA.

It had also cost him his twin positions as Principal Secretary to Mr. Vijayan and chief of the IT Department.
23/07/20 G Anand/The Hindu
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