CBI investigation Day 2: Jagan spills little on investments

Kadapa MP YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s first day of questioning revolved around crores of investments that flowed into his companies allegedly through hawala routes. The CBI also sought to know the alleged pressure exerted by the MP and his late father and chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, on the then investments and infrastructure minister Mopidevi Venkata Ramana Rao with regard to the Vanpic deal.

The CBI, according to sources, is trying to nail the ministers of erstwhile Rajasekhara Reddy’s cabinet for extending benefits to industrialists by misusing their office. During the six-and-a-half hour grilling punctuated only by a brief lunch break, investigators sought to know from Jagan the details about the role of some of the ministers in the YSR cabinet in extending various benefits to the companies of industrialists who have in turn invested in his companies in a quid pro quo arrangement.

On the Vanpic deal, the CBI sought to know whether Jagan or his father pressurised Mopidevi to approve the cabinet memorandum containing proposals for awarding the project withholding many important aspects detrimental to the state government. The former minister was also asked about the land allotments made to the promoters to execute the project. Mopidevi, along with industrialist and project promoter Nimmagadda Prasad and IRAS officer KV Brahmananda Reddy, have already been arrested in the case.

The former minister had earlier squarely blamed the then chief minister for approving the concession agreement and said he was made a scapegoat. The investigators also tried to get to know about the role of some other ministers who are under the scanner for extending benefits to investors who invested in Jagan’s companies. The answers of the MP, sources said, were crisp and, sometimes, evasive. He tried to evade answers stating that all the money pumped into his companies was ‘investments’ made by investors in a routine manner.

Jagan Mohan Reddy was taken to the Officers Mess adjacent to the central prison Chanchalguda around 10.30 am. A team of officials led by CBI superintendent of police H.Venkatesh and a couple of deputy superintendents did the initial round of questioning. The investigation team’s head, joint director VV Lakshminarayana, joined them well after 2 p.m. It is said the CBI wanted to question him on more than 30 aspects of investments and they elicited information about seven on the first day of quizzing. “Quizzing on other investments will be completed in the next four days of CBI custody,” an officer said, adding that Jagan Mohan Reddy’s replies were not convincing. The other questions were on the more than Rs 100-crore investments made in Jagathi Publications Private Limited (JPPL) by “suitcase companies” based in Kolkata and Mumbai, the investments made by the Hetero group, Aurobindo Pharma, Penna group, Dalmia Cements, India Cements and the Ramky group. The CBI also sought information on the investments made by Mauritius-based companies 2i Capital and Pluri Emerging company. Wherever necessary the CBI provided documents to show Jagan that the firms which invested in his companies were now non-existent.

The day’s only visitor to the Officers Mess was Jagan Mohan Reddy’s wife Bharati. She was initially stopped at the main entrance but was allowed inside at the intervention of Jagan’s lawyer. According to sources, though Bharati brought lunch for her husband, CBI officials did not allow her to serve it to him nor to speak with him. After the quizzing, Jagan was taken back to the Chanchalguda prison at 5 pm. The routine will be the same for the next four days.