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Govt appoints new chit fund probe panel head

The state government today appointed Justice Madan Mohan Das who will head the one man commission constituted in July 2013 for verification and return of chit fund deposits raised by several companies. The post was lying vacant since January 28 after the death of Justice R K Patra, who was heading the panel.

Justice Patra died because of pneumonia and other ailments last month in Cuttack. Justice Das, whose name was approved today, was a judge in Orissa High Court between 2003 and 2014, after 29 years of legal practice.

The Commission has so far received about a million claims from different parts of the state for return of their deposits. To verify their claims, the commission had sought the help of state-run Odisha Computer Application Centre (OCAC) to digitise each and every claims and to reconcile them with the data recorded with chit fund firms.

The digitisation process has been slow as Patra later had suggested that small investors, who have deposited upto Rs 10,000 with the firms must be identified on priority basis and their deposits must be refunded soon.

The state government has allotted Rs 300 crore to form a corpus fund, which will be used to return the money deposited with chit fund investors. The fund will also accumulate money recovered by auctioning the properties of chit fund firms.

In a separate development, the economic offence wing (EOW) of state police today sought permission of the state government to attach properties of two real estate companies– Gajanan Property Dealer & Construction Private Ltd and Ascend Creation of Kendrapara and Jajpur district respectively.

The properties of Gajanan include 7.14 acres land, a market complex and a Kalyan Mandap at Pattamundai. In case of Ascend, the EOW has asked permission to attached 9.9 acres of land, a car and a petrol pump at Rasulpur in Jajpur district.

The EOW had earlier confiscated properties of Seashore and Artha Tatwa Group amounting several hundred crore rupees. However, the Enforcement Directorate, working under Union Finance Ministry has taken possession of these attached properties after Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was asked by the Supreme Court to probe the multi state and multi crore scam.

The CBI today raided several offices of Sharadha chit fund company in Puri, Koraput, Cuttack and Balasore along with its Kolkata offices. The Puri office was sealed by state EOW in April last year. The central investigating agency searched for additional documents not seized by the state police, official sources said.

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