Andhra Pradesh CID Likely To Probe Chandrababu Naidu, Aides in Six Other Cases

The scams allegedly took place between 2014 and 2018 when the TDP was in power in the state.

Hindi Female

The Andhra Pradesh Crime Investigation Department (CID), currently investigating the multi-crore Skill Development Corporation scam in the state involving former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, is likely to widen the scope of its investigation to six other cases, sources close to the development told The Quint.

In its plea to the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday, 11 September, the state CID requested permission to question the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo and his party colleagues in connection with several pending cases.

These cases pertain to irregularities in the functioning of several government departments which either Naidu or some of his senior ministers in the then newly-formed Andhra Pradesh in 2014 have been accused of.

The cases registered against Chandrababu Naidu and other former ministers from the TDP include the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (AP-CRDA) scam, AP-FibreNet scam, AP Skill Development scam, Amaravati land scam, ESI medical purchases scam, cash-for-votes scam, and the recent Punganur arson case.

The scams allegedly took place between 2014 and 2018 when the TDP was in power.

Two senior party leaders – MLA K Atchannaidu and former education minister Ganta Srinivas Rao – have been named as co-accused in the Skill Development scam, taking the total number of accused persons in the case to 39.

The CID is likely to summon the two former ministers as well as TDP general secretary Nara Lokesh for questioning in connection with their alleged involvement in the Rs 370-crore Skill Development scam. 


'An Effort To Dent TDP's Political Revival'

Speaking to The Quint on the condition of anonymity, a former advisor of the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) said that several cases are likely to be reopened to dent the TDP's political revival and outreach efforts, which have picked up fervour in the past few months.

"Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy wants to ensure that the TDP's cadre are demoralised and are left rudderless as he sanctions Naidu's probe in multiple cases."

Speaking to media persons in Ongole, YSRCP Member of Parliament and regional coordinator V Vijaysai Reddy hinted at prolonging Naidu's jail time by reopening pending cases against the former chief minister.

Naidu is currently under a 14-day judicial custody after he was arrested in the wee hours of Saturday, 9 September, while he was attending a function at Nandyal in Kurnool district. He is currently lodged in the Rajamahendravaram Central Prison having access to home-cooked food, special room, and to medication being a Z-category security-protected.

Naidu's son Nara Lokesh, who was on Yuvagalam padayatra in Andhra's Razole, said on social media platform X:

"My anger simmers, and my blood boils. Is there no limit to the depths political vendetta will sink? Why must a man of my father's calibre, who has accomplished so much for his country, state, and Telugu people, endure such injustice?"

Origin of the Skill Development Scam  

In just a few months after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, the government led by Naidu had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Siemens Software India Pvt Ltd and a few other companies in 2014 to "upskill the unemployed youth."

The training programmes to heighten the employability of youth in various sectors were to be conducted by setting up clusters of Centres of Excellence (CoE) across the state for the Andhra Pradesh Skill Development Corporation.

The project cost was pegged at over Rs 3,300 crore and the financial arrangement required the state government to pay only 10 percent of the cost to the Siemens-led consortium as grant-in-aid, with the remaining investments being pumped in by the company.

The other members of the consortium included Gujarat-based Design Tech Systems Pvt Ltd and Industry Software India Ltd. The project was to be executed by Siemens, establishing six clusters of the CoE. The announcement of the MoU was made public in 2015. 

The Scam & Alleged Mismanagement  

Within just three months of signing the MoU, the Andhra Pradesh government allegedly transferred Rs 371 crore for operationalising the CoE. This raised many eyebrows as Siemens India had not made any financial investment yet on its part.

While Naidu virtually inaugurated more than a dozen CoE across the state and tens of thousands youth enrolled into the upskilling initiatives, an internal audit by Siemens closer to 2019 indicated several malpractices while releasing money for the project.


In 2019, when the YSRCP came to power, Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy ordered an investigation into the execution of the project.  

The state CID took up the case. It began its investigation and revealed that most of the Rs 371 crore given as advance by the government was rerouted to shell companies through fake invoices. While just Rs 130 crore was spent on the project, close to Rs 250 crore was diverted to five other companies – Allied Computers, Skillers India Pvt Ltd, Knowledge Podium, Cadence Partners, and ETA Greens – that were contracted to provide hardware and software support to the Andhra Pradesh Skill Development Corporation.

The CID reports revealed that the alleged money transfer took place on the basis of fake invoices with no actual delivery of items contracted for sale. The CID also found that the release of amounts did not bear the signature of the Principal Secretary, Finance, nor did they have the approval of the Chief Secretary.  

The CID also called out in its First Information Report (FIR) that Naidu and the TDP were beneficiaries of the misappropriated funds. The current investigation, nearly five years later, is to probe the locations to which the alleged money transfer has taken place.

The Quint has a copy of the said FIR.


What Is the CID's Contention?

Naidu is considered the principal conspirator behind the scheme, orchestrating the transfer of public funds to private entities via shell companies, resulting in a loss to the public exchequer and private gains.

The CID believes that Naidu possesses exclusive knowledge of the transactions leading to the issuance of government orders and memoranda of understanding. Key documents related to the case have gone missing and the investigation is focusing on locating the misappropriated funds, making custodial interrogation of Naidu necessary.

AP CID Officer N Sanjaya said material including statements of public officials recorded U/s164 CrPC clearly point to Naidu's involvement. The charges in the case carry penalties of more than 10 years of imprisonment.

Naidu and other 38 accused have been booked under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) and 465 (forgery), according to the FIR. The Andhra Pradesh CID has also invoked the Prevention of Corruption Act against him. 

Other central agencies including the Enforcement Directorate and the GST investigative council have already made enquiries into the case – and the CID is now looking to present material evidence before the competent court.

(Deepika Amirapu is a multi-media journalist who has reported for print, broadcast, and online news corporations since 2008.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from south-india

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More