CB Probe Blows Lid Off Sarathi Empire
BHUBANESWAR: More and more skeletons are tumbling out of the coffers of Sarathi Baba as the Crime Branch has dug into the financial transactions and wealth accumulated by the self-styled godman. He not only amassed property for himself, benami assets were also believed to have been created in the name of members of the Satyam Charitable Trust.
The cyber experts of the Crime Branch have laid their hands on a whopping 5 gigabyte (GB) information on his accounts from his laptop which could unravel the financial empire of Sarathi, alias Santosh Raula and help the agency pin down the self-styled godman.
Raula —who was brought on remand by the CB on Sunday — operated six bank accounts. While four of them were in his own name, two were operated by the Trust. The investigating agency is looking into the transactions in these accounts, Additional DG BK Sharma said.
Though donations were the only source of income of the godman, Raula channelised them to invest in property both in Kendrapara and Bhubaneswar. He owns a house in the Capital and so does Satyam, who is stated to be his son though Raula claims that he adopted the 20-year old. The two property are valued at several crores of rupees.
While interrogating him since 1 pm on Sunday, the CB officials also brought in the chartered accountant who was engaged by Raula to conduct the financial audit of the Trust. The CA has made significant revelations about the transactions, sources said.
The CB, which has a specialised Economic Offences Wing (EOW), has found out that Raula filed Income Tax (IT) returns and so did the Trust. The investigators have also stumbled upon a notice served by the IT department on Raula which the CB plans to trail and seek details from the Income Tax officials.
Besides real estates, investments were apparently made in an Odia film Bachelor. The agency is trying to ascertain if the investment was made directly by Raula or through any firm. “If it was made through a firm, we can go through the Registrar of Companies and seek the details of the company,” sources said.
Since Raula is also accused of encroaching “gochar” land, the CB will send a team to Kendrapara on Monday which will carry out demarcation and valuation of the ashram land and other property. A local tahsildar and executive engineer of (Roads and Buildings) will escort the CB sleuths in the exercise. During interrogation, Raula confessed that he frequently travelled by air and stayed in star hotels across the country. All this was done by using the donation money.