The Enforcement Directorate has taken M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, into custody in connection with alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulations) Act in the Life Mission project.
Sivasankar was being questioned by the central probe agency for the past three days here and he was taken into custody Tuesday night, officials said. Sources said his arrest will be recorded soon and the former bureaucrat will be produced before a court on Wednesday after a medical check up. Sivasankar had retired on January 31.
He was earlier arrested in a related gold smuggling case involving diplomatic baggage to UAE consulate.The Life Mission project aims at providing houses for poor at Wadakkanchery in Thrissur district of Kerala.
The CBI had in 2020 filed an FIR in a Kochi court under section 120 B of the IPC and section 35 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010 on a complaint by the then Wadakancherry Congress MLA, Anil Akkara, listing Santosh Eappen, Managing Director of Unitac Builder, Kochi as the first accused and Sane Ventures as the second accused.
The two companies had undertaken the construction based on the agreement entered with them by Red Crescent, an international humanitarian movement, which had agreed to provide Rs 20 crore towards the Life Mission project.
Akkara and the Congress party have been alleging that there was corruption involved in the selection of the contractor by the Red Crescent. Akkara had also alleged that there had been a violation of the FCRA by the Life Mission project, private companies and others.
The alleged FCRA violation and corruption in the project had snowballed into a major political issue at that time with opposition parties charging that Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the gold smuggling case, had admitted before an NIA court that she had received Rs 1 crore as commission from the project. She had reportedly claimed that the money was for Sivasankar.
However, Life Mission CEO had submitted before the court that Unitac and Sane Ventures had undertaken the construction based on the agreement entered into with them by Red Crescent and had directly accepted foreign contributions from Red Crescent, which is a foreign agency.
The petition also said the companies which signed an agreement with the Red Crescent do not come under the categories of persons prohibited from receiving any foreign contribution as per Section 3 of the FCRA.