New Delhi/Hyderabad: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday issued attachment orders on properties worth Rs.51 crore in its money laundering probe against YSR Congress chief Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and his associates.
The agency, which has questioned Reddy extensively in the past few months, has attached more than 13 acres of land of Janani Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd and fixed deposits worth Rs.14.5 crore of Jagati Publication Ltd as “kickbacks allegedly received in lieu of granting favours” to private entities. Both companies are owned by Reddy.
Reddy is at present lodged in the Chenchalguda central prison in the state capital under the judicial custody of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is conducting an investigation into him and others in an alleged corruption and cheating case during the reign of his father and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.
The attachment order, issued under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), was also against private companies that were “illegally benefited as a result of criminal activity” and illegal sanctions granted during the tenure of Rajasekhara Reddy. The other properties attached are 35 acres of land and a fixed deposit of Rs. 3 crore of Hetero Drugs Ltd, 96 acres of land of APL Research Centre Ltd, a 100% subsidiary of Aurobindo Pharma Ltd, and a fixed deposit of Rs. 3 crore of Aurobindo Pharma.
The properties of these firms have been attached as the agency alleges that these companies received illegal favours from the then Andhra Pradesh government. The ED attachment ensures these properties cannot be used by the accused and that he is devoid of any benefits from these assets, and such an order can be challenged by the accused at the adjudicating authority of the PMLA.
The ED, in its order, said during the probe it was revealed that “as a result of the criminal activity, M/s Hetero Drugs Ltd and M/s Aurobindo Pharma Ltd were illegally benefited by Rs.8.6 crore each in the allotment of 75 acres of land to each of them by the state government of Andhra Pradesh while M/s Trident Life Sciences Ltd was illegally benefited by Rs.4.3 crore in the allotment of 30.33 acre land”. These allotments of lands were done “illegally by the state government at a lower rate than the rate fixed by the price fixation committee”, the agency said.
The ED found that “in return of this favour, a sum of Rs.14.5 crore was paid to M/s Jagati Publications Ltd and Rs.15 crore was paid to M/s Janani Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd (the companies owned and controlled by Jagan Mohan Reddy). “These payments to the companies of Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy were made in the form of equity contribution which was in fact kickback for the favours done by the state government”, the agency alleged.
The ED began its probe against the politician and his associates on the basis of a CBI first information report that stated that since “May 2004, Jagan floated number of companies wherein quid pro quo investments have been made by the beneficiaries from the decisions of the state government in various forms like SEZs (special economic zones), irrigation contracts, relaxation/permission for real estate ventures, mines among others”. The CBI has already filed a chargesheet in this case in a special court in Hyderabad. PTI