As if probes by 3 central agencies were not enough, the Pinarayi Vijayan govt has the ignominy of facing a CBI inquiry into its controversial Life Mission project in which gold smuggling suspect Swapna Suresh has admitted to having received a commission of Rs1 crore.
This brings to naught the Vigilance probe into the scam, ordered by the state govt on Thursday in what was seen as a move to pre-empt a CBI inquiry, as demanded by opposition parties. The CBI has lodged the case under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, as the Life Mission was found to enter into an MoU with the UAE charity Red Crescent for receiving over Rs20 crore for the construction of an apartment complex as part of the scheme without seeking approval of the central government as required under the protocol.
The MoU was, however, not followed up with the required agreements between the state govt agency and the construction company Unitac that was awarded the contract, leaving the scope for large-scale corruption.
Unitac MD Santhosh Eapen had deposed before NIA and ED that Swapna Suresh and her accomplice had demanded Rs1 crore as commission. The total amount, however, has been variously put between Rs4 and Rs10 crore
It would bring the project the dubious distinction of involving probably the highest commission ever paid in a deal. The development seems to have rattled the LDF, led by CPI-M, which has criticised CBI probe as politically motivated. The ruling front has been suggesting the misuse of central probe agencies.