CBI arrests ex-OCA secretary, hotelier in chitfund scam

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Bhubaneshwar: The CBI on Thursday arrested two persons including former secretary of Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) Asirbad Behera in connection with their alleged links with Artha Tatwa (AT) group, a chit fund firm accused of duping investors.

Apart from Behera, the CBI also arrested Kamalakanta Das, a hotelier in the city, while executing an non-bailable warrant (NBW) issued against them by the Court of Special CJM, CBI Cases, Bhubaneswar.

While Behera was picked up from his residence in Cuttack, Das was apprehended from his Bhubaneswar house.

Earlier, Sambit Kumar Khuntia, the third accused in the case, was arrested. However,he was granted bail by the Orissa High Court on November 11, 2016.

The case was filed against the trio under various sections of the IPC and Prize Chits & Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978, an official said.

The investigating agency on August 29 had filed a supplementary charge sheet against the three persons based on the prima facie evidence on their involvement in the ponzi scam.

CBI Superintendent of Police, J N Rana told reporters that the agency did not seek remand of the two arrested persons as they were held on the basis of NBW.

While being whisked away by the CBI team, Behera told reporters that he was arrested in connection with a case registered way back in 2012.

“I will fight it legally,” Behera said.

The veteran sports administrator of the state, Behera was also at the helm of Odisha Olympic Association (OOA). He occupied the coveted posts of secretaries of the two sports bodies-the cash rich OCA and the OOA- for over two decades.

He relinquished the posts in 2017 after the Supreme Court clipped his wings debarring him from occupying or contesting in elections for any of the posts in the sports associations for his alleged involvement in financial irregularities of these two bodies.

The CBI had on August 16, 2014, raided the OCA office and Behera’s residence. The probe agency had interrogated Behera five times suspecting his alleged links with the AT group.

The investigating agency had also interrogated the OCA staff in this connection.

Behera was also questioned twice by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the AT chit fund scam case, sources said.

Earlier, the CBI had registered the instant case against AT Group and others in compliance with the orders of the Supreme Court passed in May 2014. AT Group chief Pradip Sethi was still in the jail, the official said.

It was alleged that the OCA through Behera, its the then secretary, had entered into a criminal conspiracy with the AT Group, and promoted the chit fund firm to raise its credibility in the eyes of the general public so that more people invested in the schemes floated by the group.

In lieu of the promotion, the CBI said in the charge sheet that the OCA allegedly received about Rs 1 crore from the chit fund firm in the garb of sponsorship money for the Odisha Ranji Cricket Team and title sponsorship of Odisha Premier League, 2011.

However, Behera had then clarified that the OCA had spent Rs 75 lakh for appointment of former Australian cricketer Michael Bevan as coach of the Odisha Ranji team, while around Rs 25 lakh was used for organising the Odisha Premier League.

He had then claimed that he expenditure was made in a transparent manner.

Following Behera’s arrest, his son Sanjay Behera alleged that his father was arrested as part of a conspiracy ahead of the OCA elections, slated to be held on September 27.

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