ED files charge sheet in 2015 Telangana cash-for-vote scam case

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New Delhi, May 27 (PTI) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a charge sheet against Telangana Congress MP A Revanth Reddy, TRS MLA Venkata Veeraiah and a few others in connection with its money laundering probe into the 2015 alleged cash-for-vote scam.

The central probe agency said in a statement here that a prosecution complaint (charge sheet) has been filed before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Hyderabad's Nampally.

It said the complaint has been filed against Congress MP from Malkajgiri Anumula Revanth Reddy, MLA Sandra Venkata Veeraiah representing the Sathupally constituency, Bishop Harry Sebastian, Rudra Sivakumar Uday Simha, Mathaiah Jerusalem and Vem Krishna Keerthan in the cash-for-vote scam.

Reddy and Veeraiah were earlier in the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) but now the former is in the Congress party while the latter has crossed over to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).

The agency claimed its probe has established that the accused 'committed the scheduled offence as well as the offence of money laundering by dealing with the bribe money which is nothing but proceeds of crime as per the PMLA.' 'Thus, the ED has filed a prosecution complaint against the above named accused persons with a prayer to hold a trial for the offence of money laundering,' it said.

The case dates back to 2015 when the state anti-corruption bureau 'conducted trap proceedings while making a bribe payment of Rs 50 lakh in cash to Elvis Stephenson (a nominated MLA representing the Anglo-Indian community in the Telangana Assembly) to lure him to either abstain from voting or cast his franchise in favour of TDP candidate Vem Narendra Reddy in the MLC election, which was to be held on June 1, 2015.' The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) had arrested the accused during their trap proceedings and filed a charge sheet after investigation, the ED said.

The agency said it recorded statements of the accused and witnesses during the course of its probe and that included versions of A Revanth Reddy, Harry Sebastian, Rudra Uday Simha who were 'involved in the actual handing over of the bribe amount of Rs 50 lakh to MLA Elvis Stephenson.' 'They were also confronted with the available audio-visual recordings of the encounters. ED investigation has established that Anumula Revanth Reddy, Sandra Venkata Veeraiah and others had conspired to bribe Elvis Stephenson for securing his vote in favour of Vem Narender Reddy.' 'In pursuance of their conspiracy, the accused had contacted Elvis Stephenson and offered him a bribe of Rs 5 crore. Elvis Stephenson made a complaint to the ACB police and a trap was laid and his encounters with the accused were secretly audio-video recorded,' the ED said. The accused met the complainant at his house on May 30, 2015, and made the bribe offer, the probe agency claimed.

The next day, when A Revanth Reddy, R Harry Sebastian and Rudra Uday Simha came to the house of Malcolm Taylor, a friend of Elvis Stephenson, to hand over the advance bribe amount of Rs 50 lakh in cash, they were trapped by the ACB police and taken into custody along with the seized cash amount.

'The cash was handed over to the accused by Vem Krishna Keerthan, the son of Vem Narendra Reddy, to help his father in the election,' it said in the statement.

The Enforcement Directorate had earlier attached the alleged Rs 50 lakh bribe cash under the PMLA provisions. PTI NES NSD NSD

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