by IANS | Sat, Sep 09, 2023, 12:16 PM
Amaravati, Sep 9 (IANS) Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu is the prime accused in the skill development scam, said the state's Crime Investigation Department (CID) which arrested him on Saturday.
Hours after Naidu’s arrest in Nandyal, N. Sanjay, Additional Director General, CID, told a news conference at the DGP office in Mangalagiri here that the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo was taken into custody in connection with the alleged fraud in Skill Development Corporation involving approximately Rs 550 crore.
“This case revolves around the establishment of clusters of centres of excellence in Andhra Pradesh. Total estimated project value was Rs 3,300 crore and the huge loss that was caused is in excess of Rs 300 crore,” he said.
The alleged scam took place when Chandrababu Naidu was the Chief Minister.
“The investigation implicates prime accused Chandrababu Naidu along with the TDP as beneficiaries of misappropriated funds,” he said.
“The charges in this case carry a penalty of more than 10 years of imprisonment and given this deep-rooted conspiracy the custodial interrogation is deemed necessary to uncover all aspects of the financial fraud."
The top CID official further said the arrangement for establishing the centres was that 90 per cent of the money will come from Siemens company while Andhra Pradesh government will contribute the remaining 10 per cent.
“The Andhra Pradesh government released Rs 371 crore, a large part of which was siphoned off and a small part was employed to establish centres of excellence."
Sanjay said that most of the money was diverted to shell companies through fake invoices and no actual delivery or sale of items mentioned in invoices.
“Although Investigation began with the head of Skill Development Corporation and accused companies as prime accused, the investigation revealed that the prime conspirator behind the entire scheme and who orchestrated transfer of public funds from government to private entities via shell companies is Chandrababu Naidu.”
Sanjay went on to say that Naidu possessed exclusive knowledge of transactions leading to issuance of government orders and MoU from time to time which made him the central figure of the investigation.
He also stated that the ultimate use of misappropriated funds including cash holding with certain individuals like Vikas of Design Tech requires further examination.
“Key documents relating to the case have gone missing and Chandrababu Naidu and other individuals are primary suspects."
He explained that the investigation is focusing on locating the misappropriated funds making the custodial interrogation of the TDP chief very much necessary.
“He being in a very important position as head of the political party and also having occupied the office of the Chief Minister, there is every chance of him influencing the course of investigation. Therefore, the necessity of taking him into custody.”
Sanjay also claimed that the material including statements of public officials clearly points to the involvement of Chandrababu Naidu as the principal decision maker to release the money in advance from the government.
He also revealed that the role of common players along with the former Chief Minister associated with the investigation, more particularly the secretary and the son of former chief minister requires further investigations.
“The entire offence has occurred in the knowledge of the prime mover, the conspirator and final beneficiary of this money, former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and his capacity to influence witnesses and other accused has come on record.
"His arrest became necessary because of the position he holds. It’s clearly visible he is trying to thwart the investigation and tamper the available evidence. Therefore we have taken him into custody,” Sanjay added.