ANI Photo | Kerala: ED seeks info from the ‘LIFE Mission’ CEO in the alleged scam

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday sought PB Nooh IAS, CEO of LIFE Mission, for information on the LIFE Mission Scam Case.
While speaking to ANI post-ED’s order, Nooh said that he has given all the info sought by the ED officials. He further denied all the reports surfacing that ED have asked Nooh to appear before it.
Adding that, “I don’t have notice for today, they sought some info and I have given it.”
On the other hand, ED asked CM Raveendran, the additional private secretary of the Kerala Chief Minister to appear before its Kochi office for interrogation on March 7 at 10:30 in the morning. Previously, he was summoned by the ED on February 27, however, he didn’t appear citing the ongoing Kerala assembly session.
Notably, the prime accused in the case, M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to the Kerala CM has been nabbed by the ED in the case and has been sent to judicial custody till March 8 by a special PMLA court.
The infamous ‘Kerala Life Mission Case’ pertains to the alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulations) Act in the project, which intended to provide homes to the poor who lost their houses in the floods of 2018.
The scam surfaced after the gold smuggling case came to light in June 2020 in which Sivasankar has been jailed.
Both Swapna Suresh and Sarith PS, the accused in the case employed in the UAE Consulate were later found to be involved in Life Mission funds misappropriation as well.
The ED began its probe after filing the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) back in 2021 in the Life Mission Case on the basis of a First Information Report (FIR) report of the Central Bureau of Investigation’s Cochin unit under Section 35 and Section 3 of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 based on September 30, 2020.
It was further alleged in the case that a commission of Rs 4.5 crores was given to middlemen including state representatives and government officials out of the funds received from UAE Red Crescent meant for flood-affected victims of Kerala.
Subsequently, on November 1 in 2020, the Special Investigation Unit-1 (SIU-1) of the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau, Thiruvananthapuram had named M Sivasankar, Swapna Suresh, Sarith PS, and Sandeep Nair as the prime accused in their case.
While the money laundering angle in the same case is being investigated under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, of 2002.

During the course of the investigation, it was revealed that the Life Mission of the Government of Kerala had made a Memorandum of Undertaking (MoU) with Red Crescent, UAE for the construction of residential apartments to flood affected people in Wadakkanchery Municipality.
Red Crescent, an international charity organization taking up humanitarian and social development work throughout the world. Red Crescent, UAE offered to build flats under Livelihood Inclusion Financial Empowerment (LIFE) Mission Project for which an MoU was inked on July 11, 2019.
An ED document in the case mentioned, with regard to the selection of a vendor for the execution of the project, material evidence including the Whatsapp conversations between M Sivasankar and Swapna Suresh showed indicates that the contract was fixed for Unitac Builders and Developers run by Santhosh Eappen.
It was also admitted by Swapna Suresh that this upfront commission was paid by Santhosh Eappen to the officials after receiving the amount from Red Crescent, ED further noted.
The money trail obtained from UAE Red Crescent to Unitac Builders Developers and subsequent withdrawals on the very next day of transfer was found during the course of the investigation, said the ED.
In response to this, Santhosh Eappen admitted to payment of an upfront commission to procure the contract in the Life Mission Project.
Material evidence such as the WhatsApp conversation and the statement of Swapne Suresh and Santhosh Eappen was confronted by Sivasankar.
During the initial confrontation, Sivasankar mentioned that Government had no role in the allocation of the contract to Unitac Builders and Developers. However, when the material evidence such as Whatsapp conversations between Sivasankar and Swapna Suresh regarding the allocation of a contract to Unitac Builders and Developers was confronted by Sivasankar, he was evasive in answering and non-co-operative in his approach, ED informed.
In addition, the ED said, it is also found that the details of the IMEI number of the iPhone in possession of Sivasankar have been verified against the details gathered from the vendor of iPhones alongside the details submitted by Santhosh Eappen. It was found that both the IMEI number tallied which establishes the evidence that the phone was given to Sivasankar by Santhosh Eappen. When this material evidence was confronted, Sivasankar was evasive and did not provide any material fact to substantiate his version.
“In addition to the above, it was found that the locker was opened by Swapna Suresh to handle the funds obtained from the proceeds of the crime. In this regard, under the directions of Sivasankar, Venugopal, CA, was assisting with the opening of the locker along with Swapna Suresh. While confronting the details of the same, Sivasankar was evasive in responding to it. It is clear that Sivasankar had his interest in the upfront commission earned from Unitac Builders and Developers run by Santhosh Eappen,” said the ED.
On the basis of the investigation, it is evident that a huge amount of money which has been collected for the provision of residential homes to the hapless flood victims of Kerala was siphoned off as an upfront commission for the allocation of the project contract.
Despite giving ample opportunities to reveal and cooperate with the investigation to unravel the complete modus of laundering the proceeds of crime, the agency said, Sivasankar, has wilfully adopted an attitude of non-cooperation by either evading the query or giving misleading and evasive replies.
By such action of wilful non-co-operation, the ED said, Sivsankar is impeding the investigation by not disclosing the facts which are in his exclusive knowledge.

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