Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 30:
Rajeev Singh, the joint director of the CBI and head of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) inquiring into the chit fund scam in West Bengal and Odisha arrived here on a day-long visit today.
Singh’s current Odisha visit assumes significance as AT Group chief, Pradip Sethy, two directors of his company Jyotiprakash Jaiprakash and Sambit Khuntia and the company accountant, Shrikrushna Padhi are in CBI custody and are under intensive interrogation.
Sources said Singh is here to take stock of the progress of investigation and interrogation.
It is also likely that Singh may himself interrogate Sethy on his claims that several political leaders, bureaucrats and journalists of had taken protection money from his company, the sources added.
Sources said Singh will be spending the entire day at the CBI office here before leaving for Delhi this evening.
The SIT head will be also probing the role of the SEBI and the RBI in allowing these fraud companies to flourish in gross violation of the existing norms, sources said. The CBI has already raided a house of a stock broker in Mumbai, who had allegedly obtained stock trading license on behalf of the AT Group.
“Investigation conducted so far puts a question mark on the role of regulatory authorities like the SEBI, registrar of companies and officials of the RBI within whose respective jurisdictions and areas of operation the scam not only took birth but flourished unhindered,” an apex court bench headed by Justice TS Thakur had said in its order.
Sources revealed that Sethy and his company’s director Khuntia were involved in a brawl and nearly came to blows during the interrogation by the CBI officials on Friday. Both reportedly blamed each other for ruining the company and inviting trouble. The CBI officials had to intervene and separate the two, sources added.
Sethy is believed to have told interrogators that two newspaper owners and one television journalist had taken several lakhs of rupees from him on different occasions towards advertisements.
Sethy told interrogators that the two newspaper owners had looted money from him on several occasions by promising him protection from possible action by the police, crime branch, vigilance, income tax and by dropping names of politicians and ministers. He said he doesn’t have any written documents to prove the extortion but has CCTV footage and video recording of handing over cash to them, the sources told OST.
Sethy is learnt to have told the CBI that apart from politicians, journalists and bureaucrats, businessmen in the mining trade and the owner of a star hotel had also taken money from him.