Life Mission case: ED attaches assets of Swapna Suresh, Santhosh Eappen worth over Rs 5 crore
The Kerala government filed a CBI FIR and a VACB complaint against Unitac Builders and Developers Private Limited and Sane Ventures LLP, which led to the money laundering case in LIFE (Livelihood Inclusion Financial Empowerment) Mission.
New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday (Oct 20) said that it had attached assets worth more than Rs 5 crore in connection with its continuing money laundering investigation into an alleged scam involving the LIFE Mission, which was intended to provide homes for flood victims. According to a statement from the federal agency, the properties attached include residential homes in Santhosh Eappen's name and immovable property and bank accounts in Swapna Suresh's name.
The total value of these properties is Rs 5.38 crore, it said. It alleged that Sarith PS and Swapna Suresh, two former UAE consulate officials, planned the plot with the "active support" of M Sivasankar, a former principal secretary to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Sandeep Nair, and others.
The LIFE Mission project was given to Unitac Builders and Developers and Sane Ventures LLP controlled by Santhosh Eappen "without following transparency norms," according to the ED, in order to "generate commission as bribe" from the money supplied by UAE-based Red Crescent.
Santhosh Eappen allegedly arranged an upfront commission as a bribe of Rs 4.40 crore for UAE consulate officials and some government officials out of the funds received from the UAE Red Crescent for Life mission project by taking money out of the bank accounts of Santhosh Eappen's companies, according to the ED.
The ED claimed that out of this bribe money, Khaled Ahmed Ali Shoukry, the former head of finance of the UAE Consulate in Trivandrum, sent USD 1,90,000 illegally abroad.
A home project in Wadakkanchery, Thrissur, was funded by the UAE-based charitable organization Red Crescent as part of the Life Mission Project. The Enforcement Directorate discovered that the aid contained FCRA violations and that Eappen had reportedly paid middlemen—including allegedly state lawmakers and government officials—a payment of Rs 4.5 crore in order to have his company selected for the construction project.