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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Odisha opposition parties hail CBI probe into Saradha scam

Priya Ranjan Sau, Hindustan Times  Bhubaneswar, May 09, 2014
First Published: 15:30 IST(9/5/2014) | Last Updated: 15:31 IST(9/5/2014)

Opposition parties in Odisha on Friday welcomed the Supreme Court order which has asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the multi-crore chit fund scam in the state.

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As part of its investigation, the central probe agency would look into the 44 chit fund companies operating in the state, the apex court said.

The order, in response to a public litigation petition filed by Odisha based social activist Alok Jena, said the state police’s investigation was in the right direction but the CBI would be probing the larger conspiracy angle into the multi-crore scam that has made lakhs of poor depositors paupers.

“I am very happy. I dedicate this victory to the thousands of poor people of Odisha who deposited in these fraud companies in good faith, friends in the media and civil society who stood by me,” Jena said after the apex court’s order.

Opposition parties in Odisha also welcomed the apex court’s decision.

“We had been demanding a CBI inquiry into the chit fund scam for a long time but the state government was averse to the idea claiming the probe by state crime branch was in right direction. After going through the status report of the case, the Supreme Court must have reached a conclusion that a CBI inquiry was justified,” BJP spokesperson Suresh Pujari said.

Congress spokesperson Narasingha Mishra said the SC order made it clear that the Odisha government was protecting the chit fund companies.

“We hope the culprits will be nailed,” he said.

Biju Janata Dal vice-president Kalpataru Das, however, said the state government had investigated the case in the best possible way and was never opposed to a central probe.

“The crime branch has done a good job by arresting more than 400 people for their involvement in chit fund irregularities. The government has also taken steps to compensate the depositors who lost money,” Das said.

The alleged chit fund scam is said to be worth thousands of crores of rupees. It came to light two years back in Odisha after many depositors complained many companies swindled them of their hard earned money after promising high return on their deposits.

The economic offence wing (EOW) of the state police has submitted a proposal to attach properties of 10 chit fund companies including Odisha-based Seashore Group, Artha Tatva and Kolkata-based Saradha Group having cumulative assets of Rs. 700 to Rs. 800 crore.

The wing seized Rs. 40 crore from these chit fund firms during the raids that started last year and froze another Rs. 128 crore in different bank accounts.


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