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CBI raids continue on 2nd day at AT group offices

BJD says raids on houses of party leaders not to affect image

BS Reporter  |  Bhubaneswar 

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probing into the multi crore chit fund scam in Odisha raided headquarters of chit fund company Artha Tatwa (AT) Group at Bhubaneswar today and seized 31 computers and key documents related to its ponzi schemes.

The office, which was shut down in 2012 after the crime branch of the state police initiated probe into the chit fund scam, was opened today by the CBI officials for the search operation.

The central agency on Saturday had conducted a massive raid to inspect over 50 locations in Odisha in connection with the chit fund scam of the AT Group. The sleuths had searched three flats in Bishnupriya Apartments in IRC Village area of Nayapalli locality in the city.

Three former directors of AT Group- Jaiprakash, Jyotiprakash and Ramakant Dhir, who were earlier staying in two flats in Bishnupriya Apartments on rent, had later purchased these the flats. Presently, their family members are residing in these apartments.The CBI raided these flats apart from the one in which Prasanna Sethy, brother of AT Group chairman Pradip Sethy was residing.

Besides, the CBI raided the ancestral house of Pradip Sethy in Berhampur, where his father Udayanath Sethy is presently staying.

The central agency today took AT group director Sanjeeb Khuntia into remand. He was arrested from Khurda on Saturday.

Pradip Sethy and four directors of the AT Group are now lodged in jail over charges of duping depositors' funds worth crores of rupees.

The group had collected several hundred crores of rupees in the name of housing and profitable return schemes and claimed to have invested the money in stock markets. On Saturday, CBI raided a house of stock broker in Mumbai, who had allegedly obtained stock trading license on behalf of the AT Group. The raids in Mumbai also included the residence of one TV serial producer.

Sethy during his interrogation had revealed that several political leaders, bureaucrats and journalists had taken bribes from his company to facilitate his business. The state crime branch has, meanwhile, confiscated the property of the group, estimated at Rs 400 crore.

CBI yesterday also raided two houses of former Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief whip and Banki MLA Pravat Tripathy. Tripathy has, however, denied his involvement in the scam.

"The raids happened when I was not present at my house. But the CBI has not seized any incriminating document. I am not a beneficiary of any chit fund company. Since the CBI probe is on, let us wait till the investigation is completed", Tripathy told reporters yesterday.

Recently, houses of two other BJD leaders -- Rama Chandra Hansa and Subarna Nayak, were also raided for their alleged connection with several other chit fund companies. The party leaders, however, said such cases will not affect the image of the party.

"The image of the party depends upon the image of the leader, our party president. Since our leader is not corrupt, he cannot be held responsible for misdeeds of some party workers and leaders," said Damodar Rout, state excise minister and BJD vice president.

The AT Group is among 44 firms under CBI scanner for duping thousands of investors in the state through fraudulent money circulation schemes.

Along with political leaders, houses of owner of an Odia newspaper and Ashirbad Behera, honorary secretary of Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) were also searched.

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First Published: Sun, August 17 2014. 20:25 IST