Pravat Tripathy Raided by CBI
By Express News Service | Published: 17th August 2014 06:00 AM |
BHUBANESWAR: In a fresh embarrassment to the Naveen Patnaik Government, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday raided the premises of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) legislator Pravat Tripathy suspecting his links with the Artha Tatwa (AT) Group which is a major accused in the multi-hundred crore chit fund scam.
Tripathy, a former Government chief whip and Banki MLA, was not present when his residences in Cuttack and Banki were searched by the CBI. The Central probe agency carried out raids at 58 places in Khurda, Ganjam, Cuttack and Balasore districts during the day.
Although Tripathy’s name cropped up after the chit fund scam surfaced last year, he did not figure in the investigation of the Commissionerate Police which was probing the case.
The MLA confirmed the raids but denied any link with the AT Group. He said the CBI found nothing in his house though the agency sleuths are believed to have seized important documents.
The CBI raid has called the Naveen Government’s bluff since it had submitted before the Supreme Court during the hearing on chit fund scam that its investigation was fool-proof and no political link had been found.
The CBI sleuths also searched the house of Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) secretary Ashirbad Behera in Cuttack. AT Group chief Pradip Sethi had allegedly invested in the OCA organised Odisha Premier League and the raids were conducted to find evidence about the business transaction. Similarly, former BJD member-turned-Odisha Jana Morcha leader Jagneswar Babu’s Balangir home was raided.
In Bhubaneswar and its neighbourhood, 54 places came under the CBI raids. At least four flats in Bishnupriya Apartments in Jayadev Vihar of the City where Sethi and his directors owned flats were searched by the CBI teams. One of these flats is currently occupied by Sethi’s brother Prasanna Sethi.
Similarly, a real estate firm in IRC Village was raided since the AT Group had business interests in the builder.
Two realtor brothers who run a private hospital in Sahid Nagar and a chartered accountant firm in the Capital were also searched during the day.
The probe agency also searched the office of Bikash Swain, who runs an Odia news daily “Suryaprabha”. Swain was previously quizzed by the local police in connection with the scam.
In neighbouring Khurda town’s Housing Board Colony, the CBI sleuths raided the residence of Sambit Khuntia, a Congress leader who held a director’s position in the AT Group. He was apparently hiding inside a shallow well and was later held.
Another director Jagabandhu Panda’s residence in Balasore was raided. The probe agency also searched the ancestral home of Sethi in Berhampur.
An official spokesperson of the CBI said, searches were conducted at 60 locations on Saturday. Apart from Odisha, raids were also conducted in Mumbai on the office and residential premises of a stock broker who had allegedly obtained licence from Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX) for the AT Group of Companies. Similarly, the residence of a TV serial producer was also searched in Mumbai and incriminating documents were recovered.
While the raids are likely to provide ammo to the Opposition against BJD, the ruling party MP BJ Panda tweeted: “Odisha chit fund scam: CBI today raided poltcl leaders (incl BJD) as well as other well known personalities. Good, let no stone be unturned.”
Previously, BJD MP Rama Chandra Hansdah had come under raids and cash and gold were seized. CBI had also searched the houses of former BJD MLA from Keonjhar Subarna Naik.