After ACB, ED to probe sheep distribution scam in Telangana: Tough days ahead for BRS leaders

The ED sought details about funds received from the beneficiaries as their contribution to the scheme along with details of bank accounts.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Jun 13, 2024 | 9:24 PM Updated Jun 13, 2024 | 9:24 PM

ED to probe Telangana sheep distribution scam

The coils of the sheep scam which is alleged to have taken place when the BRS was in power in Telangana seem to be tightening around its leaders like the Boa constrictor.

Apart from the ACB inquiry that is already on, the Enforcement Directorate has written to the Managing Director of Telangana State Sheep and Goat Development Cooperative Federation Ltd (TSSGDCFL), seeking information on the Sheep Rearing Development Scheme (SRDC) in Telangana.

The ED said that it required the information the agency, under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, was probing alleged fraud in the scheme’s implementation.

The agency said it was seeking information as the federation was the implanting agency of the scheme and sought all information since the scheme was implemented to date.

Related: Former BRS minister’s aide among those arrested by Telangana ACB in multi-crore sheep distribution scam

ED Deputy Director writes to federation

Enforcement Directorate’s deputy director Magimai Arockaraj A, in his letter to the federation on 11 June, wanted the details of the beneficiaries of the scheme – name of the person, address, contact numbers, bank account numbers and names of the bank branches.

The ED deputy director also sought details of the sellers from whom the sheep were purchased, the bank accounts from which the funds were disbursed by the federation to the district authorities and further to the bank accounts of beneficiaries.

The ED sought information about the funds received from the beneficiaries as their contribution to the scheme along with details of the bank accounts in which said funds were received, and the transport agencies selected to move sheeps to respective beneficiaries.

The central investigation agency also wanted the details of the payments made to the transport agencies along with details of vehicles used by the said transport agencies for the transport of sheeps in respective districts.

It also wanted details of the sheep feed procured and its subsequent supply to the beneficiaries, the details of the payments made for the procurement of the sheep feed along with a list of vendors and their bank account numbers, and names of bank branches and a copy of the internal report prepared in respect to the alleged fraud committed in the implementation of the scheme.

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Who were involved in the scam? 

Already, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) sleuths have arrested the Telangana Live Stock Development Agency Chief Executive Officer Sabavath Ramchandar and G Kalyan who was the officer on special duty for former Animal Husbandry Minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav.

Earlier, Ramachander was the Managing Director of the Telangana State Sheep and Goat Development Cooperative Federation. Though the ACB had already arrested six persons in the case, what came as a surprise to the officials is the size of the scam in the distribution of sheep to the beneficiaries.

The ACB has so far listed 10 persons as accused in the case, with eight persons now behind bars.

When the ACB took up the investigation about six months ago, the size of the scam appeared to be ₹2.1 crore. However, as the investigation continued, the ACB sleuths reportedly found that it had wider ramifications. The officials estimate that the scam might go into hundreds of crores of rupees.

In an official release, the ACB had said that Live Stock Agency CEO Ramachander and OSD to former Animal Husbandry Minister G Kalyan violated all the instructions issued for the procurement of sheep and deliberately involved private persons and brokers in the procurement process.

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How the scam worked?

With a malafide intention, both had reportedly given instructions to all district joint directors and other officials of Animal Husbandry department to facilitate misappropriation of government money by private persons.

The two officials and private persons illegally obtained undue advantage and caused wrongful loss to the government exchequer by performing their official duties “improperly and dishonestly” to obtain undue advantage and caused huge revenue loss to the government.

The ACB, after arresting the two officers, produced them before the First Additional Special Judge for ACB cases in Hyderabad. They were sent to judicial remand for 14 days. The ACB initially began investigating the case after receiving a complaint about six months ago soon after the advent of the Congress government that there was a misappropriation of ₹2.1 crore.

The modus operandi of those involved in the scam was to take the beneficiaries of Telangana to Andhra Pradesh and purchase sheep for them. Later the officials would divert the money paid by the government for the benefit of beneficiaries to benami accounts. After the BRS came to power in 2015, it launched a sheep distribution scheme and provided sheep to the beneficiaries to the tune of ₹4,000 crore.

(Edited by Neena)

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