Scandal Unveiled: Chandrababu Naidu played a key role in Rs 371 crore Andhra Pradesh Skill Development Scam

Chandrababu Naidu has allegedly “masterminded the massive Rs 371 crore scam under the guise of the APSSDC to train unemployed youth in the state

Hearing on Naidu’s bail, custody petitions in ACB court on Oct 4, IRR bail petition in High Court on Sept 29

AMARAVATHI: Former Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu has allegedly “masterminded the massive Rs 371 crore scam under the guise of the Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation (APSSDC)” to train unemployed youth in the state.

According to an unofficial note in circulation in media groups, the details put out in the scam are as follows:

Key Accusations:

1. Alleged Orchestrated Scam: Chandrababu Naidu meticulously planned, directed, and executed the scam involving Rs 371 crore.

2. Dubious MoU with Siemens: During Naidu's tenure, the state government entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with German engineering giant Siemens.

3. Questionable Fund Release: It is alleged that a whopping Rs 371 crore was disbursed in five installments within a mere three months, even though Siemens had not invested any funds into the project.

4. MoU Terms: The MoU stipulated that the Andhra Pradesh Government was responsible for contributing 10 percent of the total project cost of Rs 3,356 crore.

Key Revelations and Findings:

Missing Note Files: Notably, no note files were signed by the then-principal finance secretary and the then-chief secretary, raising questions about transparency.

Documentary Evidence Tampering: Reports suggest attempts were made to destroy critical documentary evidence linked to the scandal.

Background: The scandal is rooted in the formation of the Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation (APSSDC) in 2014, aimed at training unemployed youth and fostering ties with educational institutes near industries like Kia in the Anantapur district.

Siemens Consortium: The project was to be executed by APSSDC in partnership with a consortium comprising Siemens, Industry Software India Ltd, and Design Tech Systems Pvt Ltd. Siemens was tasked with establishing six centers of excellence.

Norm Violation: According to the Enforcement Directorate's investigation, the Andhra Pradesh Government violated established norms by releasing Rs 371 crore without a tendering process.

Diversion of Funds: Shockingly, Rs 241 crore was allegedly diverted to various shell companies, including Allied Computers, Skillers India Pvt Ltd, Knowledge Podium, Cadence Partners, and ETA Greens, without any tangible returns for skill development.

Arrests: On March 4, 2023, the Enforcement Directorate arrested key figures, including Soumyadri Shekhar Bose, Vikas Vinayak Khanvalkar, Mukul Chandra Agarwal, and Suresh Goyal, in connection with the case.

Procedural Irregularities: Central concerns revolve around the bypassing of established government procedures, swift fund approvals, and a lack of clear contractual basis for fund releases.

Finance Department Involvement: Allegations suggest that Chandrababu Naidu ordered the immediate release of funds, despite objections from finance department officials. Key government officials, including the Finance Principal Secretary and Chief Secretary, are implicated in facilitating fund release.

Funds Traced Through Shell Companies: Over 70 transactions involving these funds reportedly passed through shell companies, exacerbating the complexity of the case.

Whistleblower Reports: Whistleblowers had previously reported the skill development scam to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), and similar warnings were issued in 2018. Initial investigations into these claims were inconclusive, and notefiles linked to the project were allegedly destroyed.

GST Irregularities: Additionally, companies like PVSP/Skiller and DesignTech, central to the Skill Scam, have been accused of claiming Cenvat without paying service tax. Suspicion arose when GST officials identified irregularities involving money transfers through Hawala channels dating back to 2017.

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