Four days after arresting heavyweight Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA Prabhat Tripathy, the CBI on Tuesday arrested three more politicians – a BJD MP and two former MLAs – for their alleged involvement in a chit fund scam in Odisha.
BJD MP from Mayurbhanj Ramachandra Hansda, his party colleague and former MLA Subarna Naik and former BJP MLA Hitesh Bagarti were arrested by the central investigating agency for their links with the state-based chit fund company Naba Diganta Capital Services. “They have been arrested on allegations of criminal conspiracy, cheating and diversion of funds,” CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad said.
Meanwhile, the BJD suspended Hansda and Naik from the party. They had earlier suspended Tripathy soon after his arrest.
On October 31, the CBI had arrested BJD MLA and former Odisha government chief whip Tripathy for his alleged links with the state-based Artha Tatwa group.
“The arrests of party members will not have any impact on the BJD’s image because everybody knows chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s stand on corruption,” BJD spokesperson Rabi Narayan Nanda said.
BJP spokesperson Suresh Pujari said this was just the beginning and by the time the CBI completes its investigation, Odisha’s jails will be filled with politicians involved in chit fund scam. “No politician involved in chit fund scam should be spared,” Pujari said.
The CBI has so far arrested 14 persons, including former Odisha advocate general Ashok Mohanty, three media house owners and a Mumbai-based model, for their alleged links with chit fund companies that are accused of swindling thousands of crores from gullible depositors.
The chit fund scam in Odisha came to light two years ago after many depositors complained that several chit fund companies had cheated them of their hard earned money after promising high returns on their deposits.
The Odisha government had ordered a probe into the scam by the state police. In May this year, the Supreme Court ordered the CBI to probe the scam.
The CBI has registered 44 cases against equal number of chit fund companies in the state. AT group and Seashore group are among the biggest companies.
Activists who moved the Supreme Court against the scam allege that the scam by just two of the chit fund companies – AT group and Seasore group – might be more than Rs.20,000 crore.