Sailajanath figures in expose
Minister denies charges, says he has only 'put in a word' for a friend A story by a Delhi based investigative website Cobrapost on Monday alleged...
Minister denies charges, says he has only "put in a word" for a friend A story by a Delhi based investigative website Cobrapost on Monday alleged that Minister for Primay Education S Sailajanath had played the role of a mediator in a hawala case related to investments in a real estate project at Tirupati. It has come as a shock to the Minister and also increased worries of the state government and the Congress party which are already in trouble since some of the ministers are charge-sheeted by the CBI in a disproportionate assets case. However, Sailajanath denied any wrong doing on his part. When the news first broke out, the minister who was in the midst of a condolence meeting organised in memory of former MLA Gopinath at District Congress Committee office in Anantapur appeared totally disturbed and reportedly went missing for about two hours. He had left the meeting even without wearing his chappals and left behind his personal security guards causing concern for party activists. The minister was not available either at the R&B guest house or at his residence. The minister who surfaced at the R&B guest house around 1.30 pm told the media that he had not done anything wrong. He said he was not a man who would get involved in such illegal activities. "Based on the faith I had over Dr HariKrishna Prasad who is an orthopaedic surgeon and my junior, I had put in a word to one Rajesh. Prasad told me that he wants to mortgage his land and raise loans. I told him that I knew Prasad and that I would stand guarantee for him," he said. The minister said nowhere did Cobrapost say that he was directly involved in money laundering. "It is a very big word for me. I did not know that recommendation would lead to such kind of unexpected problems. Henceforth I shall be more careful, "he added. The Cobrapost on Monday released videos alleging large-scale money laundering transactions by financial, insurance giants like State Bank of India, LIC in the public sector and Yes Bank, Federal bank, Reliance Life Insurance, Tata AIG and Birla Sunlife in private sector. It said the investigations were spread over six months and included Delhi, UP, Haryana, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. It alleged that Dr Harikrishna Prasad, an orthopedic surgeon from Tirupati reportedly wanted minister's unaccounted money in crores for this real estate project. A hawala operator, claiming to be an ex-police officer from AP promised to transfer the money. R Manohar, Assistant General Manager in Indian Bank, South Delhi reportedly helped the Cobrapost investigative journalist, Syed Masroor Hasan to track the big fish. One former police officer of AP agreed to help deliver Rs 25 crore to Dr Harikrishna Prasad in Tirupati against the guarantee extended by the Minister. The Congress party and its leaders here decided to tread a cautious path in regard to the expose. The PCC president Botcha Satyanarayana said that he does not believe that the Minister would have indulged in money laundering activities. Talking to media, he said, "I know Sailajanath for a long time and he is not that kind of a person." Senior party leader from Anantapur, J C Diwakar Reddy said he was surprised to see the news on some TV channels. He said he does not believe in the allegations. The minister said that some time back Hari Prasad had brought one Rajesh with him and said that to develop his nursing home he wanted to mortgage his property and take bank loans and that the he should recommend his case. Sailajanath said that he told Rajesh that Hari Prasad was a reliable and good man and that he should be helped in getting the bank loan. Sailajanath said he does not know who Rajesh was. It was just a matter of faith, he added. The Minister also said that he had accounts in SBH in Hyderabad and Andhra Bank in Anantapur. During his student days, he had opened a bank account in Kurnool. He said he did not ask Hari Prasad as to how much loan he was raising. It could have been anything from Rs 10-Rs 20 crore. "I do not even know if Hari Prasad had taken the loan or not. He said he does not rule out the possibility of a political conspiracy by his rivals in the issue. Hari Prasad was not in Tirupati at the moment, the Minister added.