Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, May 21:
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) today issued orders for the attachment of property worth Rs 484 crore belonging to three companies owned by Deepak Gupta and his family and the Artha Tatwa (AT) Groups of Companies, the biggest player in the multi-thousand crore chit fund scam in Odisha.
The three firms belonging to the Guptas – M/S Deepak Steel, M/S Deepak Steel and Power and M/S Sneh Pushp – together accounted for assets worth about Rs 400 crores for which attachment orders were issued by the Kolkata office of the ED today.
These three companies, it may be noted, had been indicted by the Justice MB Shah Commission of Inquiry in the Uliburu mining scam, which was part of the Commissions’ larger probed into the mega mining scam in the state.
Some of the assets for which attachment orders were issued today belonged to directors in these three companies: among them Deepak Kumar Gupta, Champak Gupta and Haricharan Gupta.
“The assets attached under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in this case include land and buildings spread across Odisha and Kolkata,” ED sources said.
The case pertains to Uliburu mines area located in Joda mining circle in Keonjhar district of the state where largescale alleged irregularities were detected by the state mines department a few years back. The scam has been estimated to be worth Rs 1000 crores.
Terming this particular case as “one of the biggest illegal minings ever, Justice Shah Commission had recommended a CBI probe into the matter.
ED had slapped charges under PMLA after taking cognisance of the FIR filed in this regard by the Vigilance wing of the Odisha Police in 2012.
The agency had also arrested two persons in this case– prime accused Deepak Gupta and his associate S Rout.
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money has also reviewed the case for appropriate action to be taken by probe agencies like ED.
Odisha Vigilance department had earlier filed a charge sheet in this case against 23 persons and two firms in a special court in Keonjhar.
Deepak Gupta, the power of attorney holder of Uliburu mines in Odisha’s Keonjhar district, was charged by the Vigilance with having raised ore from the reserve forest area adjacent to the mines by shifting the lease boundary.
Gupta, who was given the power of attorney by B K Mohanty, the lessee of Uliburu iron ore and manganese mines, had illegally mined around 45.22 lakh tonnes of iron ore from Uliburu reserve forest and gained Rs 893.67 crore as profit during 2003-2010, the Vigilance had said in the charge sheet.
The other company whose assets were attached today was Artha Tatwa (AT) group, which is the biggest player in the mega chit fund scam in the state.
AT group property worth Rs 84 crores, consisting of both movable and immovable assets, was attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, ED sources said. These properties were in the name of AT chief Pradeep Sethy and a few others, the sources added.
The property attached today included over 100 acres of land spread out in the state, one flat in Patia and a farm-house in Khordha district, together worth Rs 79 crore, ED sources said. Rs 2.37 crore of bank deposits of the Ponzi company was also attached by them, the sources said.
The properties attached were possessed by the company Chief Pradeep Sethy and three other directors.
ED officials attached shares worth Rs 2.75 crore shares that the chit fund company had purchased from YASH trading of Mumbai.