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Odisha chit fund scam: CBI raids Seashore Group’s office in Angul

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Angul/Bhubaneswar, Sep 29:

The CBI probing into the multi-thousand crore mega chit fund scam in Odisha today raided the Amalapada office of the Seashore Group of companies in Angul.

The CBI is also interrogating senior officials of the Group’s sister concerns which include CEOs both at Angul and here, sources in the CBI said. Landlords who had given their houses on rent to the Group for operating their offices are also being interrogated by the agency, they added.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, MPs Pyarimohan Mohapatra, Prasanna Patasani and Katrina Kaif at a Seashore function
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, MPs Pyarimohan Mohapatra, Prasanna Patasani and Katrina Kaif at a Seashore function

Earlier on Friday (September 26) the central agency had raided eight places in the state including Dhenkanal and Baleswar districts to collect evidence against the Seashore Group, a major ponzi firm
On Thursday (September 25), the CBI had raided 29 places including the houses Prashant Dash at Jharpada in Bhubaneswar, a senior official of the company and former director of STV Gopal Chandra Sahu at Sarua near Khordha and another senior official at Bharatpur in the state capital.

The Khordha sessions court Friday (September 26) directed Jeypore jail superintendent to produce Seashore Group of companies managing director Prashant Dash before it on October 14 after conducting a hearing on the Enforcement Directorate (ED) appeal seeking his remand to find the money trail of the firm in the multi-thousand crore chit fund scam in Odisha.

On September 19, the ED had sought the court’s permission to take Dash on remand to establish the money trail.

Meanwhile, startling facts have come to the fore in the media that the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau of Department of Revenue functioning under the Union Ministry of Finance had informed the Odisha government about illegal running of money circulation schemes by Seashore as early as in March 2011. But, the self proclaimed clean state government did not take any action against the company, which duped thousands of depositors in due period.

Instead of taking any action against the fraudulent company, the government was busy signing MoUs with it for various projects.
The intelligence inputs of Ministry of Finance had clearly mentioned that Seashore had been luring the gullible people through various schemes. But, the Naveen Patnaik government sat over these vital inputs and allowed the companies to loot the people.

“The assessee group collects deposits from the public through its main company Seashore Securities Ltd. During the search it was detected that the depositors have been lured by this company by offering very high interest rates etc. But the interests paid have been shown in the accounts as dividend and has been paid out of the deposits only. As, such the company has no commensurate business income to make such huge interest payments,” said Praveen M Khanjooja, ADG of the economic Intelligence department in a confidential letter to the then chief secretary on March 22, 2011.

He had further informed the company was running a money circulation scheme and the amount paid out as dividends was to the tune of Rs 99.85 crore and was wrongly shown as expenditure in the accounts.
But, the Odisha government did nothing to probe the matter or put a brake on the illegal money circulation.

It may be noted that while 6.5 lakh people were duped of Rs 4,375 crore between January 2012 and June 2013 by several chit fund companies, the Seashore Group alone is accused of embezzling over Rs 1,500 crore deposits from thousands of people from across the state.
Established in 2005-06, Seashore conglomerate forayed into money circulation, real estate, gold trading and several other sectors.
The firm executed several projects in partnership with the state government, it had entered in MoUs with the government to set up an power plant in the state. It was also allowed to set up a maize processing plant at Nabarangpur, fuelling allegations of possible patronage given by some ruling party politicians to the firm.

Thirty-seven cheating cases were registered against him by police in different districts.

The Seashore chief Prashant Dash, arrested from Mumbai on June 19, 2013 and implicated in several cheating cases, is presently lodged in Jeypore jail.