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Odisha court sends Swain, Dash on 14-day CBI remand; sends Sethy to judicial custody

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Reported by Santosh Jagdev

Bhubaneswar, Sep 6:

The Special (CBI) Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bhubaneswar today rejected the bail pleas of Bikash Swain, proprietor of ‘Suryaprava’, a leading Odia daily published from the city and Ranjan Dash, co-founder of the Artha Tatwa (AT) Group and founder of Swastik India Multi-State Cooperative Agency, and allowed the CBI to take the duo on a 14-day remand in connection with the multi-thousand crore chit fund scam in Odisha.

Bikash Swain (L) and Ranjan Dash (R) in CBI custody (Pic-Biswaranjan Mishra)
Bikash Swain (L) and Ranjan Dash (R) in CBI custody (Pic-Biswaranjan Mishra)

The court also rejected the bail pleas of Pradip Sethy CMD, ArthaTatwa Group and the Group’s accountant Srikrushna Padhi and sent the two to judicial custody. Both of them were produced in the court by the CBI after their three-day remand period ended today.

While the CBI sought to take both on further remand, Sethy’s lawyers objected to it. After hearing arguments from both sides, the court sent them to judicial custody.

In its order, the court said no one is allowed to meet Sethy or his accountant in the jail without due permission from the court.

Earlier in the day, the CBI had done a health check up on Swain and Dash before producing them in the court.

Both were arrested by the central investigating agency on Friday after two days of intensive interrogation at the CBI office here.

Sources said their arrests were made after CBI found substantial evidence about their complicity in the dubious business transactions of Artha Tatwa (AT).

Pradip Sethy, AT Group chief
Pradip Sethy, AT Group chief

AT Group CMD Pradip Sethy is said to have revealed to the CBI during the interrogation that Bikash Swain had taken Rs 4 crore from the Group.

Sethy had also reportedly provided the video recording of the transactions with Swain to the CBI.

Swain failed to explain to his interrogators the purpose for which he had taken so much of money from the AT Group. He failed to produce any credible documents to account for the money, sources in the CBI said.

During interrogation, the central probe agency had found out that Swain had utilized the money to buy a piece of land at Jankia as well for development of his infrastructure, sources in the CBI said.

On being informed that he was being arrested, Swain shouted at his interrogators, the sources added.

Ranjan Das, the co-founder of the AT Group and the founder director of AT Group’s Multi-State Cooperative, the cooperative arm of the ponzi company was arrested by the CBI on Friday.

Dash had reportedly taken several lakhs from the group to get the cooperative arm of the company registered in New Delhi which later led to bickering between him and Sethy. After falling out with Sethy, Dash quit the AT Group to form another ponzi company Swastik India with Jagabadhu Panda and Manoranjan Nanda.

Dash had allegedly  purchased hundreds of acres of land in the name of Swastik India in Baleswar, Bhadrak and Baruan areas. Ever since commissionerate police arrested Jagabandhu Panda, Dash had been absconding.

Dash is known to be very close to a BJD MLA, who has already been raided in this connection.

Four teams of the CBI conducted simultaneous raids at Suryaprava office, Bikash Swain’s residence at HIG 26 in Sailashree Vihar, Swastik India office near Ekamra Cinema on Cuttack Road and Ranjan Dash’s residence at Badagada BRIT Colony.