Odisha chit fund scam: Pramod Panda, Jagabandhu Panda denied bail

Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Dec 24:

The special CBI court here today rejected the bail pleas of Odisha police DSP Pramod Panda and former director of Artha Tatwa (AT) Group Jagabandhu Panda and sent them to jail. Both were arrested by the CBI for their alleged links with AT Group, a major player in the mega chit fund scam in Odisha.

Arrested DSP Pramod Panda
Arrested DSP Pramod Panda

They will be produced in the court next on January 12.

Manoj Patnaik, another AT group director, was also sent to the Jharpada jail as his bail petition was not moved on Wednesday.

Police officer Panda’s five-day remand period ended today. He was arrested by the CBI on Friday evening on charges of larger conspiracy and deriving undue financial benefits from the AT group. He is the first Odisha police officer to be arrested in the case. He was posted as DSP, district intelligence bureau (DIB), Nayagarh at the time of his arrest.

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.

Jagabandhu Panda’s five day extended remand period by the CBI also ended today. The special CBI court had allowed the CBI to extend Jagabandhu’s remand by another five days on December 20.

The special CBI court December 11 had allowed the CBI to take Jagabandhu Panda on a nine-day remand from December 12.

Commissionerate Police had arrested Panda on May 28 last year in connection with the Rs 500- crore financial scam perpetrated by the company.

Panda, a resident of Balasore who had joined AT Group in 2008, allegedly embezzled nearly Rs 100 crore from the company before floating another money circulation company named Swastik India along with some former AT Group employees in 2011.

In a related development the Khordha district and sessions court today allowed the Enforcement Directorate to take AT Group chief Pradeep Kumar Sethy on remand.

The court fixed the next date of hearing for January 6, 2015 and directed the ED to move the court on that day on the quantum days it wished to take Sethy on remand.

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