Andhra Pradesh Crime Investigation Department (CID) on Saturday said that former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu was the principal conspirator and “accused no 1” in the Rs 371 crore skill development scam.
The agency further said that the government order was issued under Naidu’s instructions, intending to cause wrongful loss to the public exchequer and gain to private individuals.
The former chief minister was arrested by the CID around 6 a.m. from R K Function Hall at Gnanapuram in Nandyala town in connection with the scam.
In its remand report, “the CID has said that according to the investigation so far, the total amount spent by private entities on six skill development clusters is sourced exclusively from funds advanced by the Government of AP and AP Skill Development Center, totalling Rs 371 crores.”
“As ‘A-1’ is considered the principal conspirator responsible for creating a step-down entity and serving as the sole decision-maker for all transactions related to the further transfer of funds, he is the chief architect of the entire scheme. The apparent intent was to divert public funds disproportionately to a private entity without regard to G.O.M.S.No.4, allowing money to be funnelled through shell companies for private gain,” CID alleged.
Additional DIG of Andhra Pradesh DG N Sanjay, while addressing a press conference here said that Naidu possesses exclusive knowledge of the transactions leading to the issuance of government orders and memorandum of understanding, making him a central figure in the investigation.
“He possesses exclusive knowledge of the transactions leading to the issuance of government orders and memorandum of understanding, making him a central figure in the investigation. The material including statements of public officials recorded under Section 164 CrPC clearly points to the involvement of Chandrababu Naidu as the principal decision-maker to release the money in advance…” he said.
The senior officer further said that the investigation is focusing on locating the misappropriated funds, making custodial interrogation of N Chandrababu Naidu.
N Sanjay also said that the custodial interrogation of Chandrababu Naidu is necessary as he can influence the probe.
“He possesses exclusive knowledge of the crime. The entire offence has occurred in the knowledge of the prime mover, conspirator and final beneficiary of defalcation money. His arrest is compulsory because of his position and it is clearly visible that he is trying to thwart further investigation and possible tampering of evidence,” he added.
The CID further said that the former Chief Minister was arrested in connection with the alleged fraud in Skill Development Corporation involving approximately Rs 550 crores.
This case revolves around the establishment of clusters of Centers of Excellence (CoEs) in the state of Andhra Pradesh, with a total estimated project value of Rs 3300 crores, it said. The agency also claimed that the alleged fraud has caused a huge loss to the Government of Andhra Pradesh in excess of 300 crores.
As per the CID, the investigation has revealed serious irregularities such as before any expenditure by private entities, the then state government provided an advance of Rs 371 crores, representing the entire 10 per cent commitment by the government.
Most of the money advanced by the government was diverted to shell companies through fake invoices, with no actual delivery or sale of the items mentioned in the invoices, CID said.
A portion of the funds was used to create the CoE clusters, a departure from the official procedure, while the rest was routed through shell companies.
The CID alleged that the investigation implicates prime accused Nara Chandra Babu Naidu, along with the Telugu Desam Party, as beneficiaries of the misappropriated funds.
Nara Chandrababu 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, it added.
“No force on earth can stop me…”
After his arrest in an alleged corruption case earlier in the day, former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu said that he is ready to sacrifice his life to ‘safeguard’ interests of people of the state.
In a post on his social media account on X, the TDP supremo said that no one can stop him from serving the people of the state—the thing he has been doing for the ‘past 45 years’.
“For past 45 years, I’ve selflessly served Telugu people. I’m prepared to sacrifice my life to safeguard interests of Telugu people. No force on earth can stop me from serving Telugu people, my #Andhra Pradesh and my motherland,” he said.