Andhra minister arrested in Jagan graft case (Third Lead)
Hyderabad, May 24 (IANS) The CBI Thursday arrested Andhra Pradesh Excise Minister Mopidevi Venkataramna in a case involving alleged illegal assets of YSR Congress leader Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy.
Venkataramna, the first minister in the state's history to be arrested on charges of corruption while in office, was arrested soon after he appeared before agency officials for questioning for a second consecutive day.
A Central Bureau of Investigation official said the minister was arrested around 1.30 p.m. at Dilkusha Guest House, the camp office of the investigating agency.
As the minister's name did not figure in the First Information Report (FIR) registered in August last year, the CBI filed a memo before the CBI court including him as an accused in the case.
Following the arrest, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy forwarded the minister's resignation to Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan, who accepted it.
Venkataramna had reportedly submitted his resignation to the chief minister before leaving for CBI camp office Thursday morning.
Venkataramna, the fourth accused and first minister to be arrested in the case, was nabbed a day before Jaganmohan Reddy, known as Jagan, is to appear before CBI for questioning.
Venkataramna was minister for infrastructure and investment in the late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy's cabinet when certain companies were shown undue favours in return for investments they made in businesses of Jagan, the chief minister's son.
The CBI has booked the minister for corruption, cheating, criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust by public servant, and falsification of accounts.
He has been arrested for issuing certain government orders for allotment of lands and other concessions to the Vanpic project in 2008.
He reportedly violated norms and also did not take the opinion of the finance and law departments while issuing government orders allotting 15,000 acres of land in Guntur and Prakasam districts to Vanpic and granting it exemptions under Stamps and Registration Act.
The CBI last week arrested leading industrialist Nimmagadda Prasad and bureaucrat K.V. Brahmananda Reddy.
Prasad, one of the two promoters of Vanpic, allegedly invested over Rs.800 crore in Jagan's companies in return for the land and other concessions he received under a quid pro quo arrangement.
The CBI grilled the minister Wednesday. He was questioned along with Prasad and Brahmananda Reddy, then special secretary, infrastructure and investment.
Talking to reporters after meeting the chief minister Thursday morning, the minister said allotments to Vanpic were made as per the cabinet decisions.
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