Former Odisha Advocate General Ashok Mohanty has been arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with the multi-crore chit fund scam in the state.
Mr. Mohanty had to resign as the Advocate-General on September 12 after he was questioned by the agency. He is the first big-ticket arrest in the scam, even though almost 40 politicians – mostly MPs, MLAs and ministers of the ruling Biju Janta Dal – are under the agency’s scanner for their role as well.
Mr. Mohanty had allegedly purchased a property in Cuttack from Pradeep Sethy – head of Artha Tatwa group, one of the biggest companies being investigated for running Ponzi schemes – who is still under arrest.
The land had been acquired under the discretionary quota of the Cuttack Development Authority by a serving Chief Justice of a High Court. Mr. Sethy had purchased it from the judge in 2011.
In 2013, Mr. Sethy transferred the property in the name of Mr. Mohanty. Mr. Mohanty claims he paid his own money for the transaction, the CBI sources say no exchange of money took place.
The agency is investigating 43 firms accused of running ponzi schemes in the state, in which lakhs of small investors were duped of crores of rupees with the promise of huge returns.
The most direct link to BJD in the scam is Mayurbhanj MP Rama Chandra Hansdah. He was one of the founding directors of Naba Diganta Capital Services Limited, a company now being investigated. On August 31, Rs. 28 lakh was seized from his home in Mayurbhanj.
In Bhubaneswar, Pravat Tripathy, a key Naveen Patnaik aide and former chief whip of the BJD, has also been grilled by the CBI over his chit fund connections.
But the Chief Minister, who places a lot of importance of corruption-free governance, has been silent on the matter.