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CBI arrests BJD MLA Pravat Ranjan Biswal in ponzi scam

Published : Sep 20, 2017, 2:33 am IST
Updated : Sep 20, 2017, 2:33 am IST

At least half a dozen BJD leaders are allegedly involved in chit fund scam.

Pravat Ranjan Biswal
 Pravat Ranjan Biswal

Bhubaneswar: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday arrested BJD MLA from Cuttack-Choudwar, Pravat Ranjan Biswal, in connection with the multi-crore Odisha chit fund scam.

Mr Biswal was arrested after being interrogated by the CBI sleuths for nearly seven hours with regard to his links with Seashore Group, a major ponzi firm, that has allegedly swindled over Rs 1,000 crore from small investors.

“I’m innocent. The charges leveled against me are politically motivated,” Mr Biswal said while being produced in the Special CBI Court here. The court granted a five-day remand of the lawmaker to the CBI.

Biswal and his wife Laxmi Bilasini were under CBI scanner since 2014 over a land deal with the Seashore Group.

At least half a dozen BJD leaders are allegedly involved in chit fund scam.

Earlier, BJD Lok Sabha member Ramachandra Hansda, MLA Prabhat Tripathy and former MLA Subarna Naik were arrested by the investigating agency. While Prabhat Tripathy is currently out on bail, the two others are still jail.

Sources said one more Lok Sabha member and two former ministers are on CBI radar in chit fund scam. The CBI action came a day after this newspaper carried an exclusive story on Odisha chit fund scam and the CBI’s slow progress in probe. At least 20 lakh small investors in the state have been cheated to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore by over 174 ponzi firms. The ruling party strongly reacted to the CBI action saying it was “politically motivated.”

“We strongly suspect the role of BJP national president Amit Shah behind the arrest of Pravat Ranjan Biswal. Mr Shah during his three-day visit to the state early this month had categorically said the party would chastise the BJD leaders,” said senior BJD leader Prasanna Acharya.

BJD spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb, while alleging that the Centre was using CBI to harass the BJD, said his party would fight it off politically.

“The BJP cannot terrorise us by arresting our leaders. We will give them befitting reply politically,” said Mr Deb.

On November 21 2014, the CBI sleuths had grilled Biswal and his wife at their regional office in Bhubaneswar for hours.

Earlier this year in January, CBI had conducted simultaneous raids at Biswal’s residences in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack giving rise speculation to his arrest.

The MLA was under scanner over selling of a piece of land at Benapur mouza in Jajpur district.

Seashore chairman and managing director (CMD) Prashant Dash had paid Rs 25 lakh for the land in cheques in April 2012.  However, Dash had cancelled the deal later and wanted his money back, sources said.

According to the arrested leader, the money was returned to Dash in cash.

Sources said the CBI not was convinced with the clarification of Biswal and said the money was extracted from the chit fund firm in the pretext land selling.

Tags: central bureau of investigation, pravat ranjan biswal, odisha chit fund scam