The arrest of industrialist Koneru Rajendra Prasad in the Emaar-APIIC township scam has put his relationship with the who's who in Andhra Pradesh, including former chief ministers N. Chandrababu Naidu and YS Rajasekhara Reddy, under the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) scanner.
The CBI on Thursday arrested the founder chairman and chief mentor of Trimex Group and promoter of Stylish Homes Real Estate Limited on charges of cheating, criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, forgery and falsification of accounts.
Popular as 'Dubai Prasad' for his immense clout in Dubai and other emirates, he allegedly sold plots developed by Emaar-MGF in the township for Rs.25,000 to Rs.50,000 per square yard while showing only Rs.5,000 in official records.
CBI officials said this caused huge losses to Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC), which had 26 percent equity in the joint venture with Emaar. The Dubai-based Emaar Properties and its Indian associates are alleged to have diluted the equity of APIIC without the latter's knowledge.
"We have evidence against Koneru Prasad that he indulged in irregularities," said CBI Joint Director V.V. Lakshminarayana.
Prasad started calling the shots when Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu was chief minister. It was during his rule that Prasad was acting as representative of Emaar Properties, which bagged the prestigious project to build an international convention centre near Hitec City, the IT district in Hyderabad.
Prasad also used his clout with Naidu to get 535 acre of prime land at Gachibowli for Emaar Properties to build a township-cum-golf course project in 2002.
The businessman's meteoric rise continued when the late Rajasekhara Reddy, known as YSR,became chief minister in 2004. Prasad was reportedly shown many favours by YSR and his close aides.
His clout in the business and political circles only increased when he became the business ambassador of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), one of the seven emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
As the director of RAK Investment Authority and by virtue of his proximity to the state chief minister, Prasad became the marketing agent for Emaar Hills Township Project (EHTP) to sell the posh villas and apartments in the township built by Emaar-MGF in the township at Gachibowli. He sold the villas to top businessmen, politicians and film personalities.
In 2007, the state government entered into an agreement with RAK for $2 billion alumina refinery and smelter project in Visakhapatnam district. The government allotted 350 acres land for the mega project.
Prasad also managed to get the contract for RAK for building Economic City at Sultanpur on the outskirts of Hyderabad. The government in 2008 allotted 576 acres of land for the project. It was claimed that the project would bring Rs.20,000 crore investment and provide 100,000 jobs.
Prasad along with his two sons floated a special purpose vehicle Hyderabad Economic City Developers Private Limited to build the project.
Hailing from Krishna district in coastal Andhra, Prasad made a humble beginning as an employee of a mining company. A graduate from Andhra University, he formed the trading firm Trimex in 1985.
Trimex grew phenomenally not only within the state but also in the Middle East and other regions and is now estimated to have net worth of over one billion dollars.
Operating from Chennai, Prasad has business interests in mining, real estate, infrastructure, trading and shipping both in India and abroad.
A devotee of Lord Ayyappa, Prasad is wearing the 'mala' for nearly three decades and has thus acquired the status of 'guruswamy'.
Prasad's son Madhu Koneru oversees the Trimex group's operations in West Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia while his other son Pradeep Koneru oversees the Indian operations.