Vijayawada: The Criminal Investigation Department is said to have found fresh evidence linking the skill development scam to former Chief Minister and Telugu Desam supremo N Chandrababu Naidu even as probe agency arrested former Siemens employee G V S Bhaskar in Noida on Wednesday.
The arrest may put Uttar Pradesh cadre IAS official U Aparna in tight spot as she was brought on deputation as deputy CEO of the A P Skill Development Corporation concealing the conflict of interest to implement the project. Aparna is wife of Bhaskar who was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the routing of State funds through hawala channels. Bhaskar was picked up from his Noida residence and was being shifted to Vijayawada on transit warrant.
Sources said the former Siemens Industrial Software Pvt Ltd, even after knowing that the actual cost of the software to be supplied under the project was Rs 58 cr, manipulated the project report to jack up the cost to Rs 3300 cr. Accordingly, the State government released its 10 per cent contribution amounting to Rs 370 cr.
Sources said the investigating agency found crucial information pointing needle of suspicion to the former Chief Minister. Senior bureaucrat K Sunita, who was finance secretary at that time, refused to release the state component citing three valid reasons. She recommended that a pilot project should first be taken up keeping in view the huge project cost of Rs 3300 cr and State share should not be released before establishing the Siemens Business Centre of Excellence. She also noted that State share should not be released without Siemens spending a single rupee out of the projected 90 per cent grant in aid.
Later, then Chief Secretary I Y R Krishna Rao circulated the file to then Special CS, Finance, Dr P V Ramesh directing him to release the fund with observations in the note file that then Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu gave instructions for release of State share. Ramesh also made an observation in the note file that funds were being released on the instructions of the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary.