|Prasad after his arrest, (above) Jagan. (PTI)
Hyderabad, May 16: An industrialist said to have invested hundreds of crores of rupees in Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy’s business ventures was remanded in judicial custody today in the assets case against the Andhra MP, sending jitters through several companies also named in the chargesheet.
Nimmagadda Prasad, known as Matrix Prasad after a canny takeover of a pharmaceutical firm, is also alleged to have been the biggest beneficiary of land grants by the government of Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, Jagan’s late father.
The CBI also arrested a retired official, Brahmananda Reddy, for his role in the endorsement of controversial sanctions of nearly 88,000 acres during YSR’s rule.
Reddy was then infrastructure and investments secretary and is alleged to have passed several government orders without cabinet approval.
Prasad and Reddy were both shifted to Chanchalaguda prison after a CBI judge remanded them in custody for 14 days.
Prasad, accused No. 12 in the CBI chargesheet, was arrested last night after being quizzed over two days. Two of the companies he represents figure on the list as accused Nos. 22 and 23.
The CBI claims Prasad had invested nearly Rs 504 crore in Jagan’s firms. Agency sources said he invested so much money in these firms in return for benefits from the then YSR government, which is said to have allotted one of Prasad’s companies 15,000 acres for the Vanpic (Vadarevu and Nizampatnam Port and Industrial Corridor) project.
A CBI media release said Prasad had been charged with criminal breach and conspiracy.
Prasad’s arrest has sent jitters through several other groups the CBI claims invested in Jagan’s business for favours from the YSR government. The agency has listed 73 companies and industrialists in its three chargesheets against the Kadapa MP so far.
A science graduate with a postgraduate diploma in management, Prasad began his career in 1984 as a management trainee with a Delhi-based company. In 1993, he joined Vorin Laboratories as general manager, marketing, and went on to become its managing director in 1995.
When Ranbaxy Laboratories acquired controlling stake in Vorin Laboratories in 1999, he was re-designated as senior managing director and CEO.
In 2000, he acquired a sick company, Herren Drugs and Pharmaceuticals, and renamed it Matrix Laboratories. He went on to acquire more companies, including a Belgium-based firm, and held controlling stake in a China-based group.
In 2006, Prasad sold off 71.5 per cent stake in Matrix Laboratories to a US pharma company. During the YSR regime, he diversified into several sectors, like cement, power, media, infrastructure and hospitality. He is also a member of the board of Jagan’s Sakshi newspaper and TV channel.
The 15,000 acres allotted for Vanpic in Prakasam and Guntur districts is under the CBI scanner. The allegation is that three companies floated by Prasad bought shares of a face value of Rs 10 each for a premium value of Rs 350 apiece in Jagan’s companies as a quid pro quo for the land allotted for the corridor project.
Conceived in 2007, the project was aimed at developing a world-class port and an integrated industrial cluster. Neither the port nor the industrial cluster has taken off yet.
A CBI source said Prasad was only one of the “big fish” in their net. Jagan, who has not been arrested yet, has been asked to appear in the CBI court on May 28.