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Odisha chit fund scam: CBI probe deeper into AT Group investments in OPL

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sept 10:

The CBI, probing into the mega chit fund scam in Odisha, has found conclusive evidence on investment of huge amount of money by the AT Group in the Odisha Premier League (OPL) tournaments conducted by the Odisha Cricket Association (OCA).
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Sources in the CBI said that the AT Group had close nexus with the owners of five OPL teams through which it had spent crores of rupees towards the auction of players and purchase of the teams.

The CBI team on Tuesday grilled the members of Puri Emperors team and the chartered accountant of the OCA Jagabandhu Patra in this connection.

During the interrogation, CBI officials came to know that the AT Group CMD Pradip Sethy, who was the official sponsor of the OPL tournament, he had spent huge amount of money besides the sposnorship fee.

Owner of Puri Emperors team, Sagar Ray, a builder, who is the director of Orisons Overseas Pvt Ltd, had business relationship with Sethy.

The AT Group had underwritten the expenses of Orisons’ participation in the OPL.

Apart from this, Ray had also bought the franchise for the Bhubaneswar Jaguars team while he and Vinit Lalani, director of Infocity Lifestyle Pvt Ltd, were the joint owners of Bhanja Vir team.

Besides, the shareholders of AT Group and close friends of Sethy had also bought the franchises of Angul Tuskers, Baleswar Bagha, Bhubaneswar Jaguars and Brahmapur’s Bhanja Vir team.

While Bikash Swain had bought the Angul Tuskers team, SV Infra India had purchased Baleswar Bagha team, which was monitored by Ranjan Das.

Currently both Bikash and Ranjan are in CBI custody.

The CBI has revealed that while the minimum auction price for purchase of each OPL team was Rs 4 lakh, the aforesaid persons and companies had bought five teams at a much higher rate.

The owners of the teams and the OCA had spent in crores in the two OPL editions.

According to the CBI, the OCA had taken Rs 1 crore as loan from the AT Group to conduct the OPL tournaments.

OCA had roped in several well-known Ollywood stars for the inaugural function of the first OPL tournament in which a huge amount was spent by the AT Group.

However, none of the OPL teams had made any profit from the two tournaments.

The CBI has planned to grill the OPL team owners about their financial deals with the AT Group, sources said.

It may be mentioned that the CBI had earlier grilled OCA secretary Asirbad Behera in this connection.