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Odisha sports czar Asirbad Behera grilled by CBI for fourth time

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Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Nov 19:

Honorary secretary of the Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) Asirbad Behera today appeared before the CBI here for the fourth time in the last fortnight.

Asirbad Behera coming out of the CBIi office after his questioning  (Pic: Biswaranjan Mishra)
Asirbad Behera coming out of the CBIi office after his questioning
(Pic: Biswaranjan Mishra)

He was accompanied by OCA joint secretary Sanjeev Dutta, treasurer Satya Mohanty, accountants MD Ahad and Shyama Prasad Rout.

The OCA office bearers went into the CBI office at about 4.20 pm and were still closeted with officials of the agency when reports last came in.

Behera and other OCA officials are reportedly being interrogated for OCA’s alleged links with the Artha Tatwa (AT) Group, a major player in the multi- crore chit fund scam, which had invested Rrs 1 crore as the main sponsor of Odisha Premier League, modelled on the Iindian Premier League (IPL).

OCA treasurer Satya Mohanty had told reporters on Tuesday that OCA had spent more than Rs 1.5 crore in organising the OPL.

“OCA spent Rs 55 lakh in sending the Odisha Ranji team to Australia in 2011-12, Rs 57 lakh in hiring former Australian player Michael Bevan to train the Odisha Ranji players in 2011 and Rs 30 lakh towards the logo and official jerseys for the senior, junior or women teams. The AT group had sponsored OCA to the extent of Rs 1 crore,” Mohanty had told media persons On Tuesday while coming out of the CBI office after his questioning.

Asirbad Behera’s son Sanjay Behera, secretary of the Football Association of Odisha (FAO), was on Monday grilled by the CBI for the third time.

On Sunday, Asirbad Behera was subjected to a marathon grilling by the CBI for about 11 hours in two phases. Five other officials of the OCA were also interrogated by the CBI for OCA’s alleged links with ponzi firm Artha Tatwa (AT) Group. Among them were a joint secretary, an accountant and treasurer of OCA.

After the CBI took over the probe in the chit fund scam in Odisha, the CBI had raided the OCA office and Asirbad Behera’s residence on August 17 and had seized several important documents.

The OCA secretary has been saying time and again that the AT Group had sponsored the OPL tournament and had paid Rs One crore towards sponsorship fees and that the OCA had all the documents to prove that it was a bona fide commercial deal. He had said a part of the sponsorship amount was spent in hiring Australian coach Michael Bevan to train Odisha Ranji team players.