C M Ramesh and Y S Chowdary, two of the four TDP Rajya Sabha members who crossed over to the BJP Thursday, are also industrialists and have been under the scanner of Income Tax, CBI and Enforcement Directorate.
Ramesh’s name came up during the tussle in the CBI between then Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana, and there has been an Income Tax investigation regarding a company said to be linked to him. Chowdary, on the other hand, has been on the radar of the CBI and ED in an alleged bank loan fraud case.
In the past, both have claimed innocence, and denied any wrongdoing. Text messages sent to them Thursday did not elicit any response.
Incidentally, in November last year, it was BJP MP and spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao who called Chowdary and Ramesh “Andhra Mallyas” and wrote to the Rajya Sabha Ethics Committee, seeking initiation of “suitable action” against them.
Posting a November 28 letter he had written to the chairman of the Ethics Committee, Rao 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…”.
In October last year, an Income Tax probe found suspicious transactions to the tune of about Rs 100 crore in a company associated with Ramesh. According to the I-T, the company, Rithwik Projects Pvt Ltd (RPPL), had allegedly siphoned Rs 74 crore through untraceable transactions, while bills of Rs 25 crore were found to be “dubious”.
On October 12, the I-T department conducted searches at the premises of the company in Hyderabad and Ramesh’s residence in Kadapa. The TDP had protested the searches, calling it political vendetta.
In the CBI tussle between Verma and Asthana, prime witness Sana Sathish Babu, on whose statement Verma had registered a case of corruption against Asthana, had alleged Ramesh was influencing cases. Before implicating Asthana for allegedly demanding a bribe, Babu had given a statement to Asthana’s team that Verma was demanding a bribe. He had alleged that Ramesh was the go-between in fixing the case against him. Verma’s team and Ramesh had then denied the charges.
Chowdary, who was a Minister of State before TDP pulled out of the first Modi government, is being probed by the CBI in a set of three FIRs. These FIRs allege that electrical equipment manufacturer Best and Crompton Engineering Projects Limited (BCEPL), which the CBI claims is linked to Chowdary, fraudulently obtained loans of over Rs 360 crore from a consortium of banks and then defaulted.
Based on the CBI FIRs, the ED initiated a money laundering investigation against Chowdary and attached over Rs 315 crore of his assets. Among the assets seized are high-end cars which include a Ferrari, a BMW and a Range Rover.
On October 8 last year, the ED conducted searches at residential and office premises of key officials of BCEPL. “Searches resulted in the recovery and seizure of 126 Rubber Stamps of various shell companies from the business premises at Plot No.18, Nagarjuna Hills, Punjagutta, Hyderabad-500082. It was also identified that, the above business premises has accommodated many companies of Sujana Group,” the ED said in a statement.
According to ED, verification of documents seized 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 ED claimed it was probing alleged loan defaults worth Rs 5,700 crore by the Sujana Group owned by Chowdary — he denied the allegations.