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News Brief

PwC Banned From All Kerala IT Projects For Inadequate Scrutiny Of Prime Accused In Gold Smuggling Case, Swapna Suresh

BySwarajya Staff

The company has been banned for its failure to perform an adequate background check of Swapna Suresh, who was appointed at the Thiruvananthapuram Space Park.

The Kerala government has banned PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) from all projects that will be undertaken by its Information Technology (IT) department in the State for the next two years.

An order to this effect, issued by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, said that PwC has been handed a two-year ban for its failure to perform an adequate background check of a candidate appointed at the Thiruvananthapuram Space Park.

The ban relates to the Kerala gold smuggling case in which a candidate recommended by it - Swapna Suresh - is one of the prime accused.

Swapna’s appointment was made by Vision Technologies, which was appointed by PwC.

The ban follows the suspension of IT Department Secretary and senior Indian Administration Official M Sivasankar in July this year for using his influence to get Swapna appointed as operations manager at the Space Park, which is managed by the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Ltd.

The Kerala government, in its order dated 27 November, said that PwC had committed “serious breach of contractual obligation”.

The Kerala gold smuggling case came to light on 5 July when Customs authorities seized diplomatic baggage containing 30 kg of gold valued at Rs 14.5 crore meant for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Consulate General in Thiruvananthapuram.

Swapna was part of a cartel that was involved in this and Sivasankar had reportedly called the Customs officials to let her off. Sivasankar has subsequently been arrested and made as another key accused.

When the gold smuggling case hogged the limelight, PwC published a “verification report” that claimed Swapna had no case pending against her in any part of the country.

Along with this, the Kerala government has also terminated PwC consultancy for the Kerala Optic Fibre Network. The contract expired yesterday but Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s government has said that it would not be renewed.

The National Investigation Agency is probing the security angle in the Kerala gold smuggling case, while the Enforcement Director is investigating the hawala angle. Besides, the Customs Department is separately trying to bring to book the accused separately.