ED: Phoenix group's COO, CMD involved in land scams worth crores
DECCAN CHRONICLE | N VAMSI SRINIVAS
Hyderabad: The Enforcement Directorate’s preliminary inquiries are said to have found Srihari, chief operating officer of the Phoenix group, and its chairman and managing director Patibanda Gopikrishna, were kingpins in the land scams in and around the city involving thousands of crores of rupees, even as the former left the country a few days ago.
The ED dropping the name of Rajesh Dandu out of nowhere in the supplementary chargesheet also sent shockwaves in the power corridors and left an impression that the agency had widened its scope beyond the Delhi liquor scam and the people involved in it
Dandu is known for his proximity to the powers-that-be and has concluded land deals in prime locations for the big wigs including the owners of a disgraced IT and infra conglomerate.
"In the 248-page chargesheet, there is just one line that says one Ravi Verma Raju, an employee of Creative Developers, revealed that the effective control of the company was with Ravi Shankar and Rajesh Dandu. If one reads between the lines, the chargesheet indicated the course of developments to unfold in the near future," said people in know of the ED investigation.
The ED in its supplementary chargesheet in the Delhi liquor scam had revealed that K. Kavitha, BRS MLC and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s daughter, and her husband D. Anil Kumar had bought costly land parcels either in their name or in the name of their alleged benmai Arun Pillai. In all these transactions Srihari was involved, said the ED.
Referring to the land transactions, the ED said; "A careful perusal of the above facts leads to a conclusion that the person having substantial financial transaction with Kavitha negotiated the purchase of land."
Sources told Deccan Chronicle that the income-tax department had found incriminating evidence, including data pertaining to the payments made in cash by Srihari to the big wigs, during its raids a few months ago. As there was a lull after the raids, the Phoenix group projected that all the issues "resolved" and cases would be restricted to income –tax matters, a senior I-T official said adding that the ED had begun inquiries into the cash transactions.
Sources said Srihari left the country after the ED conducted searches in the Phoenix group offices in connection with the probe into alleged money-laundering by another infra company, the Sahiti group.
Sources said Phoenix founded by Suresh Chukkapalli was gradually taken over by the CMD known as Gopi in power corridors and the company registered meteoric growth under his leadership.
There is ambiguity on whether he was allotted a stake in the company but Chukkapalli moved to the position of Chairman Emeritus, leaving the field entirely to Gopi. Several group companies were formed with Gopi as director and among them Srinidhi Developers gained notoriety for handling cash transactions, official sources pointed out.