Taking the probe into Odisha’s chit fund scam a step forward, the Central Bureau of Investigation has questioned two Indian Police Service officers about their association with a fixer of the state’s biggest chit fund company Seashore group. This is the first time since CBI began its probe in July that IPS officers came under its scanner.
Rajesh Kumar, deputy inspector general of police of north central range, was called to the CBI office in Bhubaneswar in the morning on Sunday and questioned for more than three hours, while Kendrapara superintendent of police Satish Gajbhiye turned up later in the evening and faced questions for two hours.
Interestingly, before CBI took over, Kumar was heading the investigation in the chit fund scam as chief of economic offences wing (EOW) of state crime branch. “I told CBI whatever I had to tell them. I cannot speak anything more than this,” Kumar said after coming out of CBI office.
Gajbhiye however admitted knowing Subhankar Nayak, the alleged fixer. “I first met Nayak around 2008-09 when he came to meet me posing as a journalist. But I have no link with him or any chit fund company,” he said.
CBI arrested Nayak on November 18. “The documents seized from Nayak prima facie show nexus with Seashore company for channelising funds,” a CBI spokesperson said.
During Nayak’s interrogation and from several diaries seized from him, the CBI found that he coordinated with several BJD politicians, IAS and IPS officers for transfer of money. The diaries have notings against names or official positions regarding payments made.
After checking mobile call records, bank accounts and immobile properties, the CBI has found that the officers also invested capital in several businesses through Nayak.
CBI found it intriguing that Nayak, supposed to be a low level BJD worker, was close to several top police officials engaged in the state government probe into chit fund scam before CBI took over and intervened in the transfers and posting of officers in the Bhubaneswar commissionerate police. “During interrogation Nayak revealed more than a dozen IPS and IAS officers of the state attended his sister’s marriage function,” a source said.
Nayak’s description of the involvement of top officers of the state in chit fund scam corroborates with the statements that Prasanta Dash and Pradeep Sethy – chiefs of the state’s two biggest chit fund companies Seashore group and Artha Tatwa group – gave to CBI.
Both Dash and Sethy said they kept the state government machinery under their grip by bribing influential people, including ministers and bureaucrats thereby triggering a scam estimated by the state investigating agencies to be Rs.4373 crore but claimed to be more than Rs.20,000 crore by activists who sought Supreme Court intervention to bring in CBI probe.
Investigation by the CBI has revealed that several politicians and top bureaucrats received huge monetary benefits including expensive gifts like cars and flats and even trips to sleazy rave parties in Mumbai frequented by Bollywood starlets to help the chit fund companies dupe thousands of crores of rupees from lakhs of innocent depositors. The chit fund money found their way to businesses like real estate, gold trading, film making and media managed by politicians’ front men.
So far the CBI has arrested more than 30 persons including BJD MLA Prabhat Tripathy on October 31 and Mayurbhanj MP Ramachandra Hansda and former MLA Subarna Naik on Novermber 4 for their alleged involvement.
The CBI has drawn up a long list of ruling party politicians and top government officials who may be called for interrogation, and if needed, arrested in the coming weeks.