ED asks IAS officer Sivasankar to appear on his day of retirement

Kochi: The travails of once the “most powerful” bureaucrat in the Pinarayi Vijayan-government in Kerala, senior IAS officer M. Sivasankar, are likely to continue as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has asked him to appear before it on January 31 — the day he retires from service — in connection with the agency’s probe in the ‘Life Mission’ project.

The case relates to the alleged violation of the foreign contribution regulations in the Kerala government’s flagship project, which intended to provide homes to the poor who lost their houses in the devastating floods of 2018.

The project at Wadakancherry in Trissur district then came under a cloud.

Meanwhile, Sivasankar has written to the ED that since he super-annuates on January 31, he should be given a fresh date .

The ED has recently summoned Swapna Suresh, the prime accused in the gold smuggling case and questioned her along with two other accused who were also named in the case.

In the Life Mission case, the CBI had earlier arrested Unitac builder Santhosh Eapen besides questioning top government officials, including Sivasankar.

The case surfaced after the gold smuggling case came to light in June 2020 in which Sivasankar was jailed.

Both Swapna Suresh and PS Sarith, who were employed in the UAE Consulate, were later found to have a role in Life Mission funds’ misappropriation too.

The state government had then approached the Kerala High Court to stop the probe, but it dismissed the pleas and said that an ongoing CBI probe should continue in the case involving senior government officers and contractors.

The CBI had then taken a position that private company Unitac, carrying out construction on behalf of a Kerala government body, did not get the contract through a tender.

The project entailed construction of 97 apartments and a health centre, and it was alleged that both the gold smuggling case accused held talks with Unitac and fixed a commission of 30 per cent of the project cost — 20 per cent to a UAE official and 10 per cent to Swapna Suresh and other co-accused for approvals and other file movements.

The CBI claimed that Sivasankar had met Unitac owner Santhosh Eapen at his chamber along with Swapna Suresh and assured full support.

The then Life Mission Chief Executive Officer, U.V. Jose, was also allegedly present at this meeting.


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