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N Chandrababu Naidu arrest: What is the Rs 371 crore Andhra Pradesh skill development scam?

Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu was arrested by the state CID early Saturday morning from Nandyal town in connection with a Rs 371 crore skill development scam. As per the CID, the Telugu Desam Party chief is the “principal conspirator” in the fraud that has “caused loss of Rs 300 crore” to the state government.

The Andhra Pradesh Crime Investigation Department (CID) has named Naidu as "accused no 1" in the alleged skill development scam. The agency has said that the case regarding the alleged fraud in Skill Development Corporation revolves around the establishment of clusters of Centers of Excellence (CoEs) in the state. It states the total estimated value of the project was Rs 3300 crore.

According to the agency, serious irregularities were revealed in the probe. Before any expenditure by private entities, the then state govt provided an advance of Rs 371 crores, representing the entire 10 percent commitment by the government, it said. Most of this money was diverted to shell companies through fake invoices, with no actual delivery or sale of the items mentioned in the invoices, CID claimed.

Only a portion of the funds was used to create the CoE clusters, while the rest was routed through shell companies. The agency alleges that the probe implicates prime accused Naidu, along with the TDP, as being the beneficiaries of the misappropriated funds.

CID alleges Naidu orchestrated the transfer of public funds to private entities via shell companies resulting in a loss to the public exchequer and private gains. In its remand report, it says 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 GOMS No 4, allowing money to be funnelled through shell companies for private gain," CID alleged.

Andrhra Pradesh Additional DIG DG N Sanjay said that Naidu is a central figure in the probe as he possesses exclusive knowledge of the transactions leading to the issuance of government orders and memorandum of understanding. He said that 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. The probe is focusing on locating the misappropriated funds, he added. The agency said that the ultimate use of the misappropriated funds, including cash holdings with individuals like Vikas Khanvilkar, needs to be examined further.

Source : DNA India