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Odisha chit fund scam: CBI raids 29 places to trace Seashore money trail

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is investigating chit fund scam in Odisha, today raided and searched at 29 places in the state to find out money trail of Seashore company.

The company is estimated to have collected nearly Rs 1,500 crore from depositors through its various schemes, out of total Rs 4,600 crore raised by ponzi firms in the state.

Two teams of CBI today raided the Bhubaneswar house of Prasant Das, the chief of the Seashore firm and Gopal Sahu, a director of STV, the news channel of the company. The officials also raided Khurda house of Sahu.

The Central probe agency had to requisition officials from other states and local police to raid at Bhubaneswar office and other district level offices and subsidiary companies of the chit fund company. During the raid, the CBI sleuths seized several documents and cash. All 29 raids were initiated simultaneously at various places on Thursday morning, sources added.

Seashore had opened a dozen companies including an Odia news television channel, a corn processing unit and a diary firm to channelise its investment. Besides, it had bought huge amount of bullion out of the money collected from the investors.

A crackdown by state police (crime branch) in last November revealed that Das had stashed nearly 1.5 kg gold and 100 kg silver in his private locker. Das has been in judicial custody since last year in Jeypore on charges of forgery and money swindling.

On September 5, the state police had handed over all official documents and files of Seashore to the CBI. The documents included bank accounts, cheque books, land documents, bank drafts and receipts of gold biscuits purchased from the banks and jewellery shops. Besides, it had also submitted a copy of the statement of Seashore chief Prasant Das during his interrogation. The CBI team questioned the family members of Das to find out links of politicians and other influential persons in the scam. Apart from CBI, the enforcement directorate has also appealed before the Khurda sessions court to take Das into remand to find the money trail of the firm.

The links of political leaders and officials of the state government has already been established during searches and raids conducted on Artha Tatwa (AT) Group, another chit fund firm.

In a separate development, the CBI today continued to question Mumbai-based model Preeti Bhatia for her involvement in financing a TV serial funded by AT Group.

Meanwhile, the Odisha High Court today asked the counsel for former advocate general Ashok Mohanty, who was arrested by CBI for a property deal with AT Group chief. Pradeep Setthy, to move Khurda district sessions court for bail and directed the CBI to submit the case diary by the first half tomorrow. The special CBI court had earlier rejected the bail plea of Mohanty.

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