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Kerala gold smuggling case: NIA grills Sivasankar in Kochi

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Kochi, July 27: Suspended senior IAS officer M Sivasankar is being questioned by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials for the second time in connection with the ongoing probe into the gold smuggling case, sources said on Monday.

He was served notice to appear before the probe team at the premier investigation agency's office here after his five-hour long questioning by the NIA team on July 23 at the Peroorkada police club in Thiruvananthapuram.

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After his close links with some accused in the gold smuggling case surfaced, Sivasankar was removed as the principal secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and IT secretary and later suspended. The senior bureaucrat was questioned by Customs, which is also probing the case, for nearly nine hours, lasting till the early hours of July 15.

Action was taken against Sivasankar after allegations surfaced that he had links with the woman accused in the case related to the attempt to smuggle gold through diplomatic baggage using the name of a person in the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.

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    The Customs seized the gold, weighing over 30 kg and valued at around Rs 15 crore on July 5. The NIA, which has been entrusted with the probe into the case, has booked four accused-- Sarith, Swapna Suresh, Sandeep Nair and Faizal Fareed-- under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

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    Meanwhile, Enforcement Directorate is all set to move an application in the court seeking permission for custodial interrogation of the prime suspect in the gold smuggling case. The trio who will be quizzed first by the ED are Swapna Suresh, Sarith and Sandeep Nair.

    This week, custodial remand application will be moved by the ED before a special NIA court in Thiruvananthapuram.

    Earlier, the agency had filed a case of money laundering in the case. A multi-agency probe is presently being carried out. It is reportedly said the ED has gone through documents and FIRs registered by customs and NIA.

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