New Delhi: C.M. Ramesh and Y.S. Chowdary, two of the four Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MPs who have defected to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are currently under investigation by three central agencies for financial irregularities.
Ramesh and Chowdary — both of whom are also industrialists — are under the scanner of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax department.
Last year, a BJP MP had called the two of them, “Andhra Mallyas” — an allusion to fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya.
Ramesh was also named in the CBI infighting case last year.
Bank fraud case against Chowdary
Chowdary is currently being probed in connection with an alleged Rs 71 crore Andhra Bank fraud case. He was raided by the CBI as recently as 20 days ago.
According to CBI, electrical equipment manufacturer Best and Crompton Engineering Projects Ltd (BCEPL), which fraudulently obtained loans of over Rs 360 crore from a consortium of banks and then defaulted, is linked to Chowdary.
The agency said Chowdary allegedly took assistance of a BCEPL chartered accountant to divert Rs 71.46 crore to other entities.
The CBI had filed the case in 2017 against five directors of BCEPL. During the course of investigation, the agency also issued summons to Chowdary to join the probe in Bengaluru. However, he challenged it saying that he was neither the shareholder nor a director in the company.
Chowdary’s name is not mentioned in the FIR as an accused but the CBI suspects that he was controlling the functioning of the company and had put up a team of directors as a front.
On 2 June, at least 20 officials of the bank securities and fraud cell wing of the Bengaluru-based CBI unit carried out search operations on Chowdary’s premises.
After the raids, CBI officials collected documents and seized Chowdary’s property, located near Nagarjuna Hills in Punjagutta, luxury cars and other entities worth Rs 300 crore.
According to ED, verification of documents seized during one of the raids indicated that BCEPL was functioning under the “Chairmanship of Shri Y.S. Chowdary alias Sujana Chowdary, who is a sitting Member of Parliament-Rajya Sabha”.
The Rs-100 crore case against Ramesh
Ramesh, the other TDP MP who has defected to the BJP, is currently under an income tax investigation, amounting to Rs 100 crore.
Ramesh’s company Rithwik Projects Pvt. Ltd (RPPL) allegedly siphoned Rs 74 crore through untraceable transactions, while bills of Rs 25 crore were found to be “dubious”.
On 12 October last year, the Income Tax department raided the premises of Ramesh’s company in Hyderabad and his residence in Kadapa, after suspicious transactions by RPPL were observed. The I-T department had seized several documents from both locations.
The investigation in the case is ongoing.
Ramesh’s name also cropped up when an open war broke out last year within CBI.
At the time, then special director Rakesh Asthana wrote to Central Vigilance Commission about how the then CBI director Alok Verma was shielding a Hyderabad-based businessman, Sana Satish Babu, in a corruption case.
In his October 2018 letter, a copy accessed by ThePrint, Asthana alleged that “during recent interrogation in January 2018, Satish Sana gave a statement saying that he met Telugu Desam MP CM Ramesh who in turn met the Director of CBI and assured no action will be taken against him (Sana)”.
Switch to BJP
In November last year, BJP MP and spokesperson G.V.L. Narasimha Rao had called both Chowdary and Ramesh “Andhra Mallyas”. He had written to the Rajya Sabha Ethics Committee for initiating “suitable action” against them.
Following the letter, Rao had tweeted, “I’ve complained to Ethics Committee to seek disqualification of two TDP MPs, Y.S. Choudary & C.M.Ramesh who have earned the dubious title of “Andhra Mallyas” with massive financial scandals…”
After the I-T raids at his company office in Hyderabad and residence in Kadapa, Ramesh had alleged that the Modi government was using its machinery against him and it was “political vendetta”.
The MP had said that the case was nothing but “a political, vindictive move” as his party (TDP), left the BJP-led NDA alliance.