Kerala

Phone bribe allegation: Ramesh Chennithala to sue builder

Ramesh Chennithala. File   | Photo Credit: S. GOPAKUMAR

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala has said that he will sue the private builder who alleged in a recent court filing that he had purchased an expensive mobile phone for the Congress leader at the behest of gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) had held the submission aloft in an attempt to put Mr. Chennithala in a spot.

The builder’s name had emerged in the public domain after the UAE Red Crescent contracted him to construct 140 dwellings for the poor at Thrissur. Life Mission, a State agency, had facilitated the project.

Recently, the builder had come under Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) scrutiny on suspicion of violating the provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, by partnering with the UAE charity.

‘₹9-crore bribe’

The builder deposed that he had paid ₹9 crore as bribe to various intermediaries, including Swapna and UAE consulate officials, to bag the ₹20-crore construction contact.

The businessperson had bought five expensive phones in 2019 for Swapna, who allegedly told him that the devices were for select attendees at the UAE National Raising Day celebration at the consulate in 2019.

At the time, Swapna was a senior consulate official and the master of ceremonies at events organised by the diplomatic mission. The builder had deposed that the phones were a minor part of the substantial bribe component.

In a separate court filing, Swapna had “admitted” that she had received brokerage from the builder for nudging the UAE contract in his direction.

Mr. Chennithala had attended the function as the chief guest. He later clarified that the organisers had welcomed him with a shawl, which he gave away immediately.

He had not accepted any other gift though there was a raffle for attendees. A personal aide of his received a wristwatch as a lottery.

Simultaneously, Mr. Chennithala moved the police to use the IMEI number of the gift phones to trace the recipients. He also hinted that kin of the ruling political front had received expensive phones as gifts from Swapna.

Meanwhile, the CPI(M) has demanded the resignation of Mr. Chennithala for “violating” protocol. The police have sought legal opinion on Mr. Chennithala’s demand.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2020 9:38:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/phone-bribe-allegation-chennithala-to-sue-builder/article32766992.ece

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