Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh Primary education minister S. Sailajanath is in a fix after the online portal Cobrapost alleged his role in money laundering in a sting operation.
Cobrapost on Monday claimed that Dr Sailajanath was the standard guarantor for Rs 25 crore ‘black money’ to be invested in a real est-ate project of his friend Dr P. Hariprasad, an orthopaedic surgeon who runs the Balaji Orthopaedic and Trauma Hospital in Tirupati.
The portal released the videos of the sting operation it conducted in Delhi, UP, Haryana, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh for six months.
Cobrapost stated that its journalist Syed Masroor Hasan approached Dr Prasad through a banker, saying that he wanted to invest Rs 25-crore black money belonging to a Delhi-based minister, in AP. Cobrapost said it recorded the conversations of Dr Sailajanath, Dr Prasad, former CBI inspector K. Srinivasa Rao, Indian Bank AGM R. Manohar, and two territory managers of Reliance Life Insurance in Hyderabad and Delhi.
It reported that Manohar guided the journalist to Dr Prasad, who wants “our minister” (a fictitious character) to invest his black money in his real estate project.
Sailajanath refutes money laundering charges
Online portal Cobrapostl reported that it was invited to Hyderabad where Vasu (former CBI inspector K. Srinivasa Rao) offered to help a journalist deliver Rs 25 crore to Dr P. Hari-prasad at Tirupati for his project through his racket.
The portal said it met S. Sake (referring to the surname of Dr Sailajanath), “who is minister of primary education with the AP government, with nine other departments under his charge, which shows the power he wields.”
It said the minister stood guarantor for the safety of the “black money investment” in Dr Prasad’s project. “This helps us uncover a nexus between the ban-ker and the hawala racket without any fear of law, with active patronage of political masters,” it said.
When contacted, Dr Sailajanath refuted the allegations of money laundering, and said he only gave “matasayam” (verbal help) as he knew Dr Prasad as a junior in Kurnool Medical College.
“Dr Hari is a good man and he was my junior in KMC. When they came to me, I told them they can trust him,” said Sailajanath. He added, “I was told Dr Hari didn’t take the loan amount.”
“I did nothing wrong. I tried to help my close friend Dr Harikrishna Prasad, who approached me seeking oral help to get Rs 25 crore by pledging his site towards development,” the minister said.
Sailajanath added that Dr Prasad brought a person named Rajesh to him to extend oral support to get the loan.
“How do they link my name to money laundering for advising the lender verbally to sanction the loan on property,” he asked. The minister alleged that the row was created to tarnish his image.
Dr Prasad said the bank official Manohar was his brother-in- law “who introduced me to these people as lenders who give loans after mortgaging property.
“I was working on setting up a hospital in Madhapur or Banjara Hills in Hyderabad for the past six months. I was looking for loans. I also wanted to do some real estate projects if I got enough money. This man identifying himself as ‘Rajiv’ (the Cobrapost journalist) came to me and offered a loan at the interest rate of one rupee. Ialso didn’t receive any loan from them. It was only at the discussion stage.”
Asked why he needed Rs 25 crore to set up a hospital, Dr Prasad said, “If we ask for a big amount, we get at least some. I met them in Delhi. They came to city and met us and I took them to the minister.”
Srinivasa Rao alias Vasu, the former CBI cop, who Cobrapost alleged was the ‘hawala operator’, denied the allegation. “I quit the CBI job eight years ago and I am into real estate and civil construction. Dr Prasad is a good friend who comes for advice and clarifications,” he told this newspaper.
“On that day he came to office with another person, and when they were discussing the loan, he sought my opinion. I just gave my opinion on legalities involved as I am also an advocate. It is false to say that I am involved in hawala operations,” Rao said.
K. Madhumathi, territory manager, Reliance Life, Hyderabad, was found on the Cobrapost video saying, “See, many of my clients they give cash because they cannot invest directly through cheque because its ….” and “Yesterday evening only I picked up one 50 lakh cash … aapke jaisa hi … he was not a politician but a businessman … very big businessman … toh unko kya hai ki his name should not come out …Because we block the names … because customer ka naam bahar nahi aana chahiye … name aane se ek baar Income Tax ko pata chal jayega na toh un logon ki life kharab kar denge ….”
He continued, “Croron ka karte hain bhai sahib … ek crore to bahut chota amount hai … hum log yahan 50 crore, 80 crore ka karte hain …(we deal with crores, one crore is a small sum… we deal with Rs 80 crore)” M. Raghu, territory manager, Reliance Life Insurance, Delhi and Mr Chandrasekhar, sales manager, Hyderabad, were also caught in the sting operation.