Former Director of Mines V.D. Rajagopal who was summoned to the camp office of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at Dilkusha Guesthouse here on Saturday afternoon was finally arrested by the agency late on Saturday night.
He is an accused in the case of illegal mining by Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) whose owner and former Karnataka Minister Gali Janardhan Reddy and managing director B.V. Srinivas Reddy are already in jail.
Being a holiday, Mr. Rajagopal was produced before the special judge for CBI cases at his house on Sunday but the latter directed that the accused be brought to his court on Monday morning. Hence, he was shifted to the CBI office at Kothi again.
The CBI officials had conducted searches in Mr. Rajagopal's house at Musheerabad prior to picking him up and detaining him in their office overnight. He was questioned by investigators in the assets case of Kadapa MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy for two hours earlier in the day at the guesthouse.
Sources said he was booked under the same sections of IPC, prevention of corruption, forest and mines and minerals Acts as made out against Mr. Janardhan Reddy and Mr. Srinivas Reddy.
He was charged with a role in preferential treatment to OMC in grant of leases overlooking other bidders. He did not take steps to check illegal transportation of iron ore by OMC.
After arresting the Reddys, the CBI had focussed its attention on why Mr. Rajagopal and IAS officer Y. Sri Lakshmi had favoured OMC.
The latter was Industries Secretary, while Mr. Rajagopal held dual posts of Mines Director and vice-chairman and managing director of AP Mineral Development Corporation during the period 2004-10 when the illegal activity of OMC surfaced.
The agency also told the court that it wanted to identify government officers who aided OMC in getting the mining lease on a controversial area of 68.5 hectares at Obulapuram in Anantapur district where iron ore of inferior quality was available.
The OMC is alleged to have shown ore excavated at other places as output of this mine and exported the same to tax haven countries as a cover to get back black money as legal tender.
The CBI found in its investigation that 28 applications were received for grant of lease at the 68.5-hectare site. Of them, OMC and Vinayaka Mining Company in which Mr. Janardhan Reddy's father-in-law was a partner were shortlisted.