Vijayawada – The Andhra Pradesh Crime Investigation Department (CID) has arrested former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu in connection with a high-profile fraud case involving approximately Rs. 550 crores. Naidu was apprehended on the morning of September 9, 2023, at RK Function Hall in Nandyal.
The CID has registered a case under multiple sections, including U/S 120-B, 166, 167, 418, 420, 465, 468, 471, 409, 201, 109, R/w 34 & 37 IPC Sec 12, 13, (2) R/w 13(1) (c) & (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1998 OF CID PS AP Mangalagiri, with Crime Number 29/2021.
This case centers around alleged fraudulent activities related to the Skill Development Corporation and the establishment of Centers of Excellence (CoEs) in Andhra Pradesh, with an estimated project value of Rs. 3300 crores. The irregularities uncovered during the investigation are as follows:
- The government provided an advance of Rs. 371 crores to private entities before any expenditure, constituting the entire 10% government commitment.
- A significant portion of the government funds was diverted to shell companies through fake invoices, with no actual delivery of the items mentioned in the invoices.
- Funds were used to establish CoE clusters, departing from official procedures, while the remainder was channeled through shell companies.
- Naidu and the Telugu Desam Party are implicated as beneficiaries of the misappropriated funds.
- Naidu is considered the mastermind behind the scheme, orchestrating the transfer of public funds to private entities, resulting in a substantial loss to the state and private gains.
- Naidu possesses exclusive knowledge of transactions leading to government orders and memoranda of understanding, making him a central figure in the investigation.
- The ultimate use of the misappropriated funds, including cash holdings with individuals like Vikas Khanvilkar, requires further examination.
- Key documents related to the case have gone missing, with Naidu and others as primary suspects.
- The investigation is focused on locating the misappropriated funds, necessitating Naidu’s custodial interrogation.
- Statements of public officials recorded under U/s 164 CrPC clearly implicate Naidu as the principal decision maker in releasing the money.
The charges in this case carry penalties of more than 10 years of imprisonment, and given the alleged deep-rooted conspiracy, custodial interrogation is deemed necessary to uncover all aspects of the financial fraud. Naidu’s arrest is essential due to his influential position and the potential for obstruction of further investigation and tampering with evidence.
It is worth noting that other agencies, including the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) department, have already conducted investigations into this matter. The CID is committed to conducting a thorough and comprehensive investigation, following all relevant criminal procedures, and presenting the evidence before the competent court. The case highlights the alleged involvement of a prominent political figure in a complex economic offense, with potential ramifications for the political landscape in Andhra Pradesh.