Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Nov 11:
The Orissa High Court today granted conditional bail to five persons, including Manoj Dash, proprietor of a local television channel, accused in the Artha Tatwa (AT) Group chit fund scam.
Others who were granted conditional bail are Bikash Swain, Vineet Lalani, Sambit Khuntia and Manoj Patnaik.
Notably, Manoj Dash was arrested in September 2014 for his suspected complicity with the AT Group, a key player in the multi-thousand crore chit fund scam in Odisha.
Dash had allegedly taken Rs 90 lakh from AT Group CMD Pradip Sethy for leasing out bandwidth for operating six television channels in the tele ports owned by him. During interrogations by the CBI, Dash had reportedly managed to produce document/agreement pertaining to the leasing of bandwidth for operating only one television channel in his teleport for Rs 15 lakh to Sethy while failing to produce documents for the other bandwidths for operating five more channels and to account for the rest Rs 75 lakh.
Similarly, Bikash Swain, proprietor of Odia newspaper Suryaprava, was arrested in 2014 after CBI found substantial evidence about his complicity in the dubious business transactions of AT Group.
Likewise, Vineet Lalani, a city based builder, had allegedly taken huge amounts of money from the AT Group for real estate and construction business but did not repay the amount to the firm.
Sambit Khuntia, who was the head of AT Group office operating in Khurda where the firm bought more than 100 acres of land, had reportedly bought the land in his own name at several places under Khordha Tehsil.
On the other hand, Manoj Pattnaik, one of the directors of the AT Group, was handling the company’s gold trading business. He was initially arrested in 2014 in connection with the company’s financial fraud. Though he had managed to get bail in the case, he was re-arrested in 2015 after police slapped a second case against him relating to fraud in gold trading by the company. He had reportedly embezzled nearly Rs 4 crore of AT funds.