Odia newspaper owner held in chit fund scam

Odia newspaper owner held in chit fund scam

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested Bikash Swain, the owner of a Bhubaneswar- based Odia language daily, on Friday night in connection with a multi-crore chit fund scam. He was produced in a CBI court here on Saturday.

The probe agency took Swain into custody after three days of marathon questioning over his alleged links with the Artha Tatwa (AT) group, an Odisha-based chit fund company currently under the scanner.

On Friday night, the CBI  also raided the office of “Suryaprabha,”  the vernacular daily owned by Swain, besides his residence.

The agency also arrested Ranjan Das, the promoter of another city-based finance company, Swastik India. Das was a former executive at the AT Group.

Highly placed sources said both Swain and Das were interrogated and subsequently taken into custody on the basis of confessional statements made by Pradeep Sethi, the chairman and managing director of the AT Group, currently behind bars.

The CBI is also questioning a few city-based builders over their links with the AT Group. Their arrests are on the cards. 

Sources also did not rule out the possibility of the CBI questioning a few more politicians over their association with the chit-fund company and its controversial owner Sethi.

The agency recently conducted raids on the houses of senior legislator Prabhat Tripathy, of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Dal, and a few of his associates for their alleged links with the AT Group. 

The residence of another politician, Jangeswar Babu, the general secretary of regional outfit Odisha Jan Morcha, was also raided. 

The office of the Odisha Cricket Association and the residence of its all-powerful secretary Ashirbad Behera were also searched.

Apart from the AT Group, the CBI is also probing the activities of more than 40 chit-fund companies in the state. 

If sources are to be believed, after the AT Group, the probe agency will soon be concentrating on the Sea Shore Group, another high-profile chit-fund firm whose CMD Prasanta Das is already in prison.

The CBI has reportedly prepared a list of nearly 70 people who would soon be questioned over their links with the Sea Shore Group. 

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