The purchase of a diamond necklace worth Rs 90 lakh from Vijayawada Gold Mall in June led the Andhra Pradesh Anti-Corruption Bureau to unearth more than Rs 200 crore in illegal assets — reportedly owned by the director of the state’s Department of Town and Country Planning — during raids on Monday and Tuesday.
The probe into the purchase led the ACB to high-profile businesswoman Chintamani Gayatri and her husband who spilled the beans on the accused, Golla Venkata Raghu, who is supposed to retire on Thursday.
Raghu had allegedly amassed 30 properties in Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad and Shirdi, besides gold and diamond jewellery, and had allegedly invested money in real estate through five benami firms of which Gayatri is director, the agency said.
Gayatri is a former Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) employee and was Raghu’s business partner along with her husband N Siva Prasad, a junior technical officer at VMC.
“Raghu’s entire wealth is only in Gayatri’s name … there is very little land or other assets in the name of his wife and daughter… his mother-in-law is a director in one of the front companies… All the properties were purchased through Sai Sudha Avenues, Saburi Builders Pvt Ltd, Sreematha Infra and Nalluri Charitable Trust,” said Investigation Officer and Deputy SP of ACB (Vizag) Ramakrishna Prasad. The fifth benami firm was named Sai Sadhan Venture.
“Raghu first worked as a city planner at Vizag before becoming chief city planner. He was transferred to GHMC as deputy commissioner and was later the Vijayawada Town Planning Director. He amassed this wealth in the last 15 years… it must be close to Rs 200 crore. It may go up because we are still recovering documents,” Prasad said.
Gayatri’s purchase of jewellery came to the notice of the ACB’s central intelligence unit (CIU) at Vijayawada. “We picked up Gayatri and her husband and the entire plot was exposed,” Jagannath Reddy, CIU Deputy Director, said.