ED likely to probe SNC Lavalin case

Journalist-activist, who filed complaint 15 years ago, to appear before agency today

After initiating probes into the alleged irregularities in the LIFE Mission and the Masala bonds issued by the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) appears to be determined to take a look into the SNC Lavalin case in which Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was earlier involved.

The ED has asked journalist-activist T.P. Nandakumar to appear before it on Friday and “provide evidences relating to SNC Lavalin and others” as mentioned in his letter to the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) earlier, so as to enable the agency to “expedite the investigation.” He has been asked to be present before the agency at 11 a.m.

2006 complaint

Incidentally, Mr. Nandakumar had written to the Director General of DRI on March 10, 2006, regarding the “tax evasion and anti-national activities by certain political leaders of Kerala.” Its by dusting up the complaint filed by Mr. Nandakumar 15 years ago that the agency has sought his presence for investigation.

The move may snowball into a head-on confrontation between the State government and the central investigation agencies as the Kerala is going for the Assembly polls on April 6.

Interestingly, the Supreme Court has scheduled the hearing of the CBI’s appeal in the case on the same day in which the State would go to the polling booths to elect the next government.

The CBI had moved the apex court against the Kerala High Court verdict of upholding a CBI Special Court’s decision to discharge Mr. Vijayan from the case. The hearing in the case was postponed on a few occasions after the investigating agency seeking more time. The apex court had frowned upon the agency when it sought the postponement of the hearing a few times.

The case

The SNC Lavalin cases pertains to the alleged loss of ₹86.25 crore suffered by the State following a contract between the Kerala State Electricity Board and the Canadian firm, SNC Lavalin, for the renovation and modernisation of Pallivasal, Sengulam and Panniyar hydroelectric projects in Idukki district.

Mr. Vijayan was the Power Minister of the State during the time. The case had generated several political storms in the State and the CPI(M) and Mr. Vijayan braving it on the basis of the decisions of the CBI court and the Kerala High Court.

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