Chandrababu Naidu sent to 14-day judicial custody in skill dev case

New Delhi: An anti-corruption bureau (ACB) court in Vijaywada on Sunday sent TDP Chief Chandrababu Naidu to judicial custody till September 23 in connection with alleged skill development scam.
The former Andhra Pradesh chief minister was arrested at Nandyal in the early hours of Saturday. A police contingent had arrived at around 3 am to arrest the Telugu Desam Party chief while he was sleeping. They could not arrest him as his party workers gathered in large numbers and protested the move.
The TDP leader’s security detail also intervened saying they could not allow police to arrest him until 5.30am as per the rules. Naidu was eventually arrested around 6am.
Naidu was arrested in connection with the alleged ₹3,300 crore Andhra Pradesh Skill Development Corporation (APSSDC) scam which reportedly took place during his stint as the Andhra chief minister.
In March this year, the Andhra Pradesh Police’s Crime Investigation Department (CID) had initiated a probe into the case. The investigation followed notices to former Indian Railway Traffic Service officer Arja Srikanth, who was the chief executive officer (CEO) of the APSSDC in 2016, based on the statements by an accused turned approver and depositions by three IAS officers.
The APSSDC was set up in 2016 to empower unemployed youth and provide skill training to enhance their employability.
According to the CID probe, the then Chandrababu Naidu government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the project worth ₹3,300 crore. The MoU involved a consortium with Siemens Industry Software India Ltd and Design Tech Systems Pvt Ltd.
Siemens Industry Software India Ltd was to establish six centres of excellence for skill development. The Andhra government was supposed to contribute around ten per cent of the total project cost. The two companies would provide the remaining funds as grant-in-aid.
As per investigation by CID, the project was initiated without following standard tendering process. The state cabinet allegedly did not approve the project.
The CID probe pointed to Siemens Industry Software India allegedly failing to invest any of its own resources in the project and diverted a substantial portion of the ₹371 crore allocated by the state to various shell companies. The CID alleged the funds meant for the project were funnelled into shell companies.
Following the heat, Siemens Global Corporate Office initiated an internal inquiry into the project and discovered that the project manager had misappropriated the government-allocated funds to shell companies as hawala transactions.

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