CBI arrests Andhra minister for favouring Jagan’s companies

Ramana is the first minister in state to be arrested while in office

 
By M Suchitra
Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

The Central Bureau Investigation (CBI) has arrested Andhra Pradesh’s excise minister Mopidevi Venkata Ramana for his alleged role in favouring companies that invested in Kadapa MP YS Jagan Mohan Reddy's businesses. The arrest on May 24 followed CBI’s probe into disproportionate assets amassed by Jagan, son of late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. This is the first time that a serving minister has been arrested for corruption in the state.

Charges against the minister

Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) 477-A (falsification of accounts) and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 13-1 (criminal misconduct) of the Prevention of Corruption Act
 
Ramana, who was the infrastructure minister during the YSR regime (2005-2009), is the fourth person to be arrested so far by the CBI in connection with Jagan the assets case. He was held for his alleged role in with regard to the allotment of 5,260 hectare in Guntur and Prakasam districts for promoters of Vodarevu and Nizampatnam Port and Industrial Corridor (Vanpic) by doctoring the terms of the concession agreement, which was not in tune with the Cabinet approvals.

The CBI has so far arrested V Vijay Sai Reddy, auditor of YSR's family businesses, industrialist Nimmagadda Prasad and bureaucrat K V Brahmananda Reddy. The minister’s arrest comes after the statements given by Prasad and Reddy who was special secretary for investments, ports and infrastructure.

The government of Ras Al Khaimah from the United Arab Emirates is the majority stakeholder in the Vanpic project while Matrix Enport of Prasad was to hold 49 per cent in it. The CBI has accused Prasad of investing nearly Rs1, 000 crore in Jagan's businesses in lieu of the favours given to him. The agency said the cost of acquiring 5,260 ha for the Vanpic project was shown to be Rs 450 crore while only Rs 150 crore was paid to the land owners. A probe is on to ascertain the final beneficiaries of the remaining Rs 300 crore.

The CBI says the deals are part of a web of business connections woven by Jagan to profit from his father's influence. The companies against which chargesheets have been filed include Aurobindo Pharma, Hetero Drugs, Trident Life Science and infrastructure entity Ramky Group. All these companies were accused of investing in the businesses of Jagan in lieu of favours in the form of allotment of hundreds of hectares of land during YSR’s regime.

Immediately after his arrest, the minister sent his resignation letter to chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy. There is speculation that the CBI may now arrest five more senior ministers for their alleged role in issuing 26 controversial government orders during the tenure of YSR. Earlier in March, the Supreme Court had issued notices to these ministers and eight bureaucrats—Dharmana Prasad Rao, Geetha Reddy, Ponnala Lakshmaiah, Kanna Laxminarayana and Sabitha Indra Reddy.  A CBI court sent Ramana to CBI custody till May 30 for further interrogation. Thereafter, he will be in judicial custody till June 7.

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