CBI grills Odisha cricket czar Asirbad Behera twice in a day

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 16:

Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) honorary secretary Asirbad Behera was grilled by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) twice on Sunday in connection with the cricket body’s suspect dealings with the Artha Tatwa (AT) group, a major player in the Odisha chir fund scam.

OCA seceretary Asirbad Behera
OCA seceretary Asirbad Behera

Behera, who along with an OCA accountant was grilled by the CBI for nearly two and a half hours in the morning, reached the CBI office here in the evening for the second time in the day in the company of four other OCA officials, inlcluding its treasurer and another accountant.

While Behera refused to speak to the media after the first round of grilling in the morning, he is believed to have been questioned on the possible siphoning off of depositors’ money by the AT Group through OCA.

Sources in the CBI said Behera and Sagar Ray, one of the proprietors of Orison PropertiesLtd who was arrested by the CBI yesterday, were interrogated face to face by the central agency. Ray, it may be noted, was the owner of a team in Odisha Premier League (OPL), an OCA event modelled on the Indian Prmier League (IPL) and sponsoredby the AT group.

Behera had earlier been interrogated by the Commissionerate Police in this connection before the CBI took over the investigation of the chit fund scam as per a Supreme Court order on May 9, 2014.

After taking over the investigation, the CBI had raided the OCA office and Asirbad Behera’s residence on August 17 and seized several important documents. CBI had also interrogated another accountant of the OCA as well as Asirbad Behera’s son Sanjay Behera, Secretary of the Football Association of Odisha (FAO) in this connection.

The OCA secretary had earlier said 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 then said a part of the sponsorship amount was spent in hiring Australian coach Michael Bevan to train Odisha players. Though Asirbad was summoned by the Commissionerate Police for his alleged links with the AT Group, today was the first time he was interrogated by the CBI for his AT Group links.

Also interrogated by the CBI on Sunday  were Seashore Group chief Prasanta Dash and his son Pradeep Dash. The face to face interrogation of the father-son duo was still on at the time of reporting.

Though it’s not yet clear as to what the CBI was questioning the Seashore Group chief Prasanta Dash and his son Pradeep Dash about, it’s believed that the father and son were being grilled on the diversion of Rs 9 crores of Seashore money to Bhubaneswar Institute of Technology (BIT), a private engineering college in the city.

The CBI came to know about fund diversion to BIT on September 25. Dash’s son Pradeep had then said that his father had invested Rs 9 crore in BIT in 2009-10.

“The college authorities appointed my father as a trustee and axed him after his arrest on June 19, 2013. The cash-strapped college management had approached my father for financial help. The college had then assured to give hefty returns on the investment. When they failed to give back the money, they made my father a trustee. After his arrest, we approached the college seeking a refund, but the management claimed that the money was given as donation,” he had said.

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