Thiruvananthapuram: The prime accused in the gold smuggling case, Sandeep Nair, has alleged that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials had threatened him to give a statement against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan while he was under their custody.
He also revealed that pressure was also exerted by the ED officials for giving statements against former Minister K T Jaleel, former Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan and Bineesh Kodiyeri, the son of CPM politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.
Sandeep further said that the ED officials had promised him of acquittal in the case if he revealed the names of these leaders. However, he refused to make any comment on his involvement in the gold smuggling case. He admitted that he knew about the bag that came to the airport through the diplomatic channel.
While saying that he had gone to the flat owned by former IT Secretary M Sivasankar, Sandeep said he believed that the suspended IAS officer had no role in the gold smuggling case.
'Received commission in Life Mission'
According to Sandeep, he had received commission from the UAE Consulate with regard to the Life Mission Project. While justifying the receipt of commission as lawful, the accused said he did not know that the Life Mission Project belonged to the state government. A multi-agency probe was initiated after the Customs seized 30kg gold from diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram in July, 2020.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which took over the probe on the directive of the Union Home Ministry, had stated that the proceeds of smuggling could be used to fund terror activities. Key accused P S Sarith, Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair were subsequently arrested.
Swapna and Sarith are former employees of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram and allegedly used their past connections to smuggle gold using the diplomatic channel.While Sarith was arrested by the Customs, Swapna and Sandeep Nair were nabbed from Bengaluru by the NIA. Sandeep had been named as the fourth accused in the case.
Sandeep was released from the jail on Saturday after his sentence under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA) ended. Swapna Suresh, whose COFEPOSA remand also expired today, is still in jail as she has to get bail in a related case charged by the NIA. The case under the COFEPOSA against another accused Sarith is still pending and hence, he will not be able to come out of jail soon.