Odisha chit fund scam: CBI arrests DSP Pramod Panda

Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Dec 19:

In a major development in its ongoing investigation into the Odisha chit fund scam, the CBI arrested DSP Pramod Panda for his links with the Artha Tatwa (AT) Group this evening. Panda is the first Odisha police officer to be arrested in the case, though two senior IPS officers, Angul DIG Rajesh Kumar and Kendrapara SP Satish Gajbhiye have been questioned earlier.

pramod panda

“In Odisha Chit Fund case relating to Artha Tatwa Group , CBI has arrested Shri Pramod Panda , presently DSP of Odisha Police on charges of larger conspiracy and deriving undue financial benefits,” a CBI spokesperson said in New Delhi.

Panda, currently posted as DSP, district intelligence bureau (DIB), Nayagarh was arrested after the third round of interrogation at the hands of the CBI this evening.

This was the third time in the last three days that he was quesioned in the last three days.

Panda appeared at the CBI office at around 3.30 pm.

During the course of its investigation, the CBI had stumbled upon evidence of his complicity with  the chit fund scam accused and AT group chief Pardeep Sethy. During a raid at his Bhadrak residence on November 18, the central agency had seized some crucial documents that pointed to financial transactions between him and the AT group.

The CBI had got tell tale evidence of transfer of huge amounts of money from the AT group to a computer centre named ZICA run by Panda’s wife Gitanjali, sources in the agency said.

Thirty minutes after Panda went in, Alok Jena, petitioner in the Supreme Court in the chit fund case, arrived at the CBI office.

Jena, it may be noted, has filed two FIRs against the former in New Delhi accusing him of intimidating him and threatening him with dire consequences if he did not withdraw his PIL in the apex court.

Coming out of the CBI office at about 6.15 pm, Jena denied that Panda was subjected to questioning face to face with him  as initital reports had suggested.

“As the petitioner in the case, I had come to give some crucial documents to SP CBI against DSP Panda,” he said.

Jena further said he was quizzed by the CBI SP about who had sent Panda, who was the Crime Branch DSP at the time, to Delhi to threaten him. Panda had gone to Delhi on official tour along with one of his associates Saroj Kumar Rath, he said.

“Pramod Pnda had gone to Delhi on the orders of his boss,” Jena said. When mediapersons asked Jena whether the boss would be interrogated by the CBI, he said; “It is for the CBI to answer.”

Nearly an hour after Panda reached the CBI office, three inspectors of the Cooperation department of Government of Odisha also arrived at the CBI office.

Though the names of the three could not be immediately ascertained, CBI sources said they would be questioned about thier role in facilitating the cooperative business of the AT group.

AT group chief Pradeep Sethy, it may be noted, had been awarded the ‘Best Youth Cooperator’ award by the department barely 17 day after his multi-purpose cooperative society was registered and without any previous work in the field to justify the award.

Meanwhile, CBI joint director Suman Bala Sahoo, head of zone (east) posted in Kolkata, is scheduled to arrive here tomorrow to take stock of the progress of the investigation, a CBI official revealed.

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