A court in Andhra Pradesh’s Krishna District on Tuesday granted bail to AgriGold chairman Avva Venkatarama Rao, a key accused in the multi-crore AgriGold scam, along with four other directors.
The court granted conditional bail to Avva Hemasundara Varaprasad, Nagendra Rao, Venkata Satyanarayana and Venkata Vijayabhasakar.
While media reports suggested that the bail was granted after Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officials failed to file a charge sheet within the stipulated time frame, the agency denied the claim.
“It is not true that bails are granted to the accused for not filing charge sheet and bails are granted only on technical grounds,” the CID said in a press note.
While they may released from the District Jail in Eluru soon after submitting surety, it has also been learnt that the CID will arrest them again in other cases related to the same scam.
Responding to the development, M Nageshwar Rao, Honorary President of the Agrigold Customers and Agents Welfare Association, demanded immediate attachment of ‘benami’ assets of the all the accused.
"CID should arrest them even before they get released and attach their benami assets to AgriGold company. Those properties should then be sold off, so government can do justice to the investors," he said.
He also demanded that Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu should give compensation to the poor investors like labourers, daily wage earners and widows, as soon as possible,
“They may get bail even after looting money of the people worth several thousand crore, but they will always be as thieves in the public's view,” Rao added.
Avva Venkatarama Rao, the chairman, was arrested in February 2016, after a case filed in Pedapadu in West Godavari district. Several times, the chairman of the tainted company told the media that he would not to injustice to the investors and he would refund the money of the people.
The court order came weeks after the arrest of Avva Sitarama Rao, Venkatarama’s younger brother, who had been absconding since 2014, when news of the scam first broke out.
Around 3.2 million people in many states, including Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, were duped by the AgriGold scam, which came to light in 2014.
AgriGold owes Rs 6,380 crore to over 32 lakh depositors in 9 states, with Andhra Pradesh leading the list with 19 lakh depositors.
The company lured several lakh customers on the promise that their investment would come back to them with higher returns. Several 'agents' were also sent out to convince people to invest in the group of companies.
The company allegedly took this money and invested heavily in real estate, before branching out to other areas as well, and finally duping the customers.
In March this year, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu distributed cheques worth Rs 5 lakh to each of the families of those who lost their lives due to the AgriGold scam.
The Chief Minister doled out a total amount of Rs 5 crore as compensation to aid the families of the victims of the multi-crore scam.