AP CID chief says Naidu thoroughly guilty, points to his signatures at 13 places on note files

The top cop said Naidu therefore could not claim ignorance of what transpired in the Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Sep 14, 2023 | 1:45 AMUpdatedSep 14, 2023 | 1:46 AM

Chandrababu Naidu being taken for a medical exam before being taken to an ACB court. (Supplied)

The CID, which is prosecuting former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu for his alleged involvement in the ₹371-crore skill development scam, has stated that the Telugu Desam Party chief was unquestionably guilty, as all major decisions — including the release of the budget for the skill development corporation — occurred after he signed the relevant note files.

CID Additional DG N Sanjay told reporters in Amaravati on Wednesday, 13 September: “We have found Chandrababu Naidu’s signature in 13 places on note files, including the one meant for the release of ₹371 crore.”

He thereby underscored the point that Naidu could not claim ignorance of what transpired in the Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation (APSSDC).

The statement came against the backdrop of INDIA bloc constituents, one after the other, expressing solidarity with Naidu in his hour of crisis.

West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, former chief ministers Akhilesh Yadav and Farooq Abdullah, and Shiromani Akali Dal Chief Sukhbir Singh Badal have already come out in his support. The Congress, however, has not yet reacted to his arrest.

Also read: Andhra HC to hear Naidu’s quash petition on 19 September

Fake invoices, shell companies

The Additional DG said that all rules were disregarded in floating the corporation.

“Chandrababu Naidu signed the note directing the Finance Department to release ₹371 crore. Ganta Subba Rao, a private individual, was brought in and was given three positions, including the post of the managing director of the corporation. Similarly, the auditor appointed for the corporation had previously worked for the Telugu Desam Party,” he noted.

He said the APSSDC was set up by issuing a Government Order (GO). Of the ₹313 crore (after GST) allocated for the project, ₹241 crore went into shell companies. There was no satisfactory explanation as to why the money had to be diverted to shell companies, he said.

The ADG also said Siemens, a company based in Germany, stated that its representatives did not properly brief them on the contents of the agreement with the corporation.

It apparently said it had received a payment of only ₹58.8 crore for software, which was shown as costing ₹2,700 crore.

Using a flowchart, the CID revealed that the APSSDC released ₹371 crore to Design Tech, of which ₹241 crore was diverted to a shell company (PVSP). “We are treating this as proceeds of the crime. This amount was diverted to 20-30 companies, for which fake invoices were submitted,” said the ADG

He said that although the GO establishing the corporation indicated that Siemens would contribute 90 percent to the project, the agreement signed with the company was silent on Siemens’ contribution. It only referred to ₹371 crore (10 percent of the project’s cost). The agreement was signed with mala fide intent, he said.

Regarding the criticism of why Naidu, who was accused No 37, was made Accused No 1, the ADG dismissed it as a “funny argument”.

Naidu was guilty through and through, he said, as his signatures were present on the note files at every stage of decision-making in the scam.

Also read: A look at ex-chief ministers who spent time behind bars

YSRCP hardens stand

Meanwhile, YSRCP general secretary and advisor to the Andhra Pradesh government Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy expressed surprise at the TDP’s objection to Naidu’s imprisonment. “Why are you making a fuss when we have caught the thief?” he asked.

He told reporters that when the TDP was in power, it engaged in corruption with abandon. The state exchequer suffered a significant loss in the skill development scam, he added.

To loot the exchequer, the TDP introduced a scheme and funnelled the money to itself through shell companies, he claimed. The CID has provided ample evidence that Naidu was deeply involved in this, he said.

Siemens had denied any role in the scam, as its representatives entered into an agreement without being briefed on the contents of the MoU, he said. Except for ₹58.8 crore for software, Siemens did not receive any money, he added.

Ramakrishna Reddy disapproved of the petition filed by Naidu in the court for house custody. “If he were to stay at home, why arrest him in the first place?” he asked.

He also said the government had acted generously by providing all amenities to him, which were not provided to anyone in the past.

Related: Home-cooked food, medication for Naidu in Rajamahendravaram jail

INDIA constituents express solidarity

The opposition INDIA bloc constituents have come out in support of Naidu.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who leads the Trinamool Congress, has already stated that she did not approve of Naidu’s arrest and criticised vindictive politics.

Former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who is the chief of the Samajwadi Party, posted a message on X stating that arresting Opposition leaders had become a practice for the BJP and its opportunistic friends.

He warned that the saffron party would pay a heavy price if they continued with its policy of political vendetta.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, who is the leader of the National Conference, described Naidu’s arrest as a wrong step ahead of the elections.

Sukhbir Singh Badal, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal and a former NDA partner, posted on X that it was unfortunate to see Naidu being arrested on “trumped-up” charges.

He stated that vendetta of this nature was not conducive to the growth of a healthy democracy, and that it should be avoided.

Also read: AP CID chief N Sanjay’s tangles with Naidu’s kith and kin