With the Andhra Pradesh high court ordering a full-fledged Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into his alleged illegal wealth, India's richest MP YS Jaganmohan Reddy may face arrest and his assets are likely to be seized.
The CBI, which conducted preliminary investigations on the direction of the court last month, is expected to take up the full-scale probe against the YSR Congress party chief, popularly known as Jagan, and his associates after receiving the court orders pronounced Wednesday.
The federal agency will book a criminal case and take up investigations under the Indian Penal Code, Prevention of Corruption Act and Prevention of Money Laundering Act as directed by the court.
According to sources, CBI may constitute a multi-disciplinary investigation team as done to probe the Satyam accounting fraud. As the case involves alleged money laundering, hawala transactions and investments routed through tax haven countries, the team will have officials from the enforcement directorate, income tax and other agencies.
The CBI, which questioned as many as 25 companies who made massive investments in Jagan's businesses allegedly in return for the benefits they received from his father and then chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, is expected to get a free hand in probing all aspects of the financial misdeeds.
Legal experts say Jagan and others found involved in the case may face arrest. "If the investigating agency feels the accused may tamper with the evidence, it may arrest them during the course of investigations," said D Srinivas, counsel of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader K. Yerran Naidu, one of the petitioners in the case.
He believes that Jagan's assets may also be seized if the charges under Prevention of Corruption Act and Prevention of Money Laundering Act are proved.
During the by-polls to the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat in May this year, Jagan had declared assets of Rs.365 crore, making him the richest MP in the country. In the 2009 elections, he was worth Rs.77 crore.
Textiles Minister P. Shankar Rao, on whose letter last year the court took up the hearing, claims that Jagan was worth Rs.11 lakh prior to 2004 but now has assets were worth Rs.43,000 crore.
YSR, as Jagan's father was known, became chief minister in 2004 and remained in power till his death in a helicopter crash in 2009.
The court ordered probe after it was prima facie convinced that many companies invested "corrupt money" in the firms owned by Jagan as part of quid pro quo arrangement for the largesse and benefits received by the investors from the government.
The court in its order observed that the investors received benefits in various forms like special economic zones, irrigation contracts, relaxation/permission for real estate ventures and mines.
Noting that the companies floated by Jagan showed phenomenal growth, the division bench said the face value of the shares of some companies were escalated by as much as 35 times.
The companies, which received massive investments including those routed through tax haven countries, include Jagati Publications that published the Telugu daily Sakshi and Indira Television that runs the Sakshi television channel.