KOCHI: Chartered Accountant Venugopal testified to the ED that the new locker was opened in Thiruvananthapuram as per the instructions of M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to the chief minister. He also said that Sivasankar introduced Swapna Suresh, after bringing her to his office. Venugopal and Sivasankar were made to sit together and interrogated at the ED office in Kochi yesterday. The grilling lasted for 10 hours.
It is heard that Venugopal revealed that Sivasankar came to his house with the money to be kept in the locker. Venugopal’s statement clarifying the role of Sivasankar was when the latter said that he knew nothing about the locker opened. With this, the noose around Sivasankar has been tightened. The ED decided to interrogate Venugopal along with Sivasankar when he did not cooperate with the investigation after his arrest.
Rs 30 lakh was initially deposited into the joint account. Swapna later withdrew this in several stages. Kept money in the locker quite often. When asked to close the account, Swapna said that there was some jewellery in the locker. Venugopal also revealed that after more money was kept in the locker, took the key of the locker from Swapna on the instructions of Sivasankar. The lockers were at SBI’s City Branch and Federal Bank’s Statue Branch, near the Secretariat. It has to be found how much crores are in the locker.
The over smartness of Sivasankar hiding the bribe money of life mission project in Swapna’s bank locker, tightened the noose around him. The ED had confirmed that the seized one crore was the bribe given by the construction company UNITAC. According to ED, there was a conspiracy under the leadership of Sivasankar to transfer the donation of one crore dirham to private contractors to build houses and hospitals for the flood victims. Following a memorandum of understanding with the government of UAE charity Red Crescent, private companies were allowed to enter into contracts with the UAE Consul General. This was a bribery ploy to avoid the CAG audit. One crore for Sivasankar was brought by Khalid, the accountant of the consulate.