AgriGold was established in the year 1995 in Vijayawada as a Collective Investment Scheme (CIS), with Avvas Venkata Rama Rao as chairman and a handful of others.
Hundreds and thousands of people, including minor workers, farmers, and commoners, have deposited their life savings in AgriGold after being deceived by the promise of keen interest. On the other hand, AgriGold bought off thousands of acres of land all over the state with the bailer’s money. Unfortunately, in the end, it left them stranded and abandoned.
So now, the question arises who is 420 in AP behind this scam. It’s always been the ex-Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu, and his government.
Now let’s take a brief look at the scam.
The AgriGold scam tallies to INR 35,000 crore. The ill-gotten money of lakhs of bailers disappeared overnight because of this scam. Yet, until the intervention of the courts, the Chandrababu Naidu government did not make any arrests.
The arrests were made only after the state High Court warned the government for its lack of interest. Later, the government arrested the chairman as well as the MD of the AgriGold Company in February 2016.
However, in the matter of this scam, the AgriGold management had disposed of their assets even before the outrage broke out. The company had directed the money into its confidential accounts. And all of this happened with the silent help of the Chandrababu Naidu government.
First Case in Nellore
In the year 2014, things slowly started to go downhill. Later that year in November, the Vijayawada office experienced a tense scene as numerous customers landed there, allegedly saying that interest was not payable, and the cheques are bouncing.
Afterward, on 24th December, victims filed their FIR in three police stations in Nellore. Following the events, 14 more cases were registered after the year 2014 across the state concerning the AgriGold scam.
In the districts of Nellore, YSR Kadapa, Chittoor, East & West Godavari, and Krishna, victims approached the police. Likewise, in the states of Telangana & Karnataka, cases were also filed.
Chandrababu Naidu got agitated at the time, thinking that the whole matter of scam would go to the court leading to a CBI probe. Taking into consideration, on the 5th of January, 2015, he ordered an investigation by CID, which is under his feed-forward control.
As a consequence of pressure vested by Chandrababu Naidu, the CID personnel submitted to the High court over and over that there was no necessity for the arrest of AgriGold administration.
Where did the deposit of INR 570 crore go?
The finance minister of Andhra Pradesh, Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, told the Deccan Chronicle on 17th January 2015, that the AgriGold Company had acquired 16,000 acres of land in 7 states, from the 30 lakh people on the other hand deposits in excess to Rs.500 crore in commercial banks and Rs.70 crore in non-commercial banks.
He also claimed that the Rs. 570 crore would be used to pay back the money to depositors. However, after the seizure of twenty-two bank accounts, the finance minister submitted to the High Court that only an amount of Rs. 6 lakh remained in those accounts.
Hearing to such an irresponsible claim, the judge got furious and wondering how could only Rs.6 lakh be left in those accounts. He further questioned the government on what they were doing when the money from those accounts was diverted or withdrawn from other accounts.
GO No. 23 does not cover all Assets
The Andhra Pradesh government issued a GO No. 23 on 20th February 2015, attaching AgriGold assets after confronting criticism from the state High court. Surprisingly, only a few assets were attached within this GO.
Even while the probe was on, Sitaram Awas, the vice-chairman of AgriGold, sold a valuable piece of land on the main road in Tirupati on 10th August 2015, for Rs. 14 crores. It is relevant to emphasize that this land was also precluded from AgriGold attachment.
There was an extensive criticism about the delay in the arrest of Sitharam Awas. When criticism started to rise that the AP government was giving Sitharam Awas a long time due to some deals done in the back, the AP government had only one option that is to claim that he had already been arrested.
Agriculture Minister Bought Lands in the Name of His Wife
On 19th January 2015, a month before the GO on AgriGold assets’ attachment was issued, the Andhra Pradesh agriculture minister Prathipati Pulla Rao bought fourteen acres of land in the name of his wife, Venkayamma. He bought this land from Uday Dinkar, a director of Ram Awas resorts and the AgriGold chain hotel group.
These assets did not unveil under the attachment because the GO was issued on 20th February 2015, and he bought this property a month before on January 19. Put differently, the government’s heavy hitters assured that valuable lands of AgriGold were not a part of the attachment and only included lands of reduced value under its wing.
High court furious at CID
In clear terms, the court had expressed its anger at the operating of the state’s CID. It cautioned them for backing and helping the AgriGold management.
In particular, the court was upset with the CID’s disclosure that only Rs. 6 lakh were left in the accounts of AgriGold. The court further asked the CID to explain where the money from these accounts had gone as well as the court was also very much interested to know what the CID was doing when this money was being withdrawn and diverted.
U-turns in Essel Group takeover
The government relied on delaying tactics for three and a half years, claiming that it would ensure justice to the AgriGold victims. At the same time, it came under criticism that the CM was trying to possess Haailand, a valuable asset owned by AgriGold.
At this stage, Essel Group, headed by Subhash Chandra, came into the picture with Amar Singh as its middleman. Essel Group head Subhash Chandra turned up to take over AgriGold in the year 2014, and some key agents of the government-held talks with Amar Singh.
It also came to light that Seetharam Awas was also present in these talks. However, the sequence of incidents that happened between the Essel Group’s earliest statements that it would take over AgriGold and will provide justice to the depositors and the announcement made by them eight months later that the firm had more debts than assets raised doubts over the intentions of the government.
This AgriGold scam entirely proves that there is no second answer to who is 420 in AP. Chandrababu Naidu, the 420 in AP, was involved in many types of scams, including this AgriGold scam. A scam this big should make you aware and rise from your sleep before electing the leader of your state. If AgriGold victims have to get justice, a CBI investigation has to be conducted. Therefore it is more important than the government to create belief in buyers & only then can justice be served to the 40 lakh victims of the AgriGold scam integrally.