Odisha chit fund scam: Pravat Biswal not out of the woods yet

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 25:

Notwithstanding an elaborate explanation provided by him to explain away his financial transaction with the Seashore group, the biggest of the chit fund companies in Odishab currently being probed by the CBI, Choudwar-Cuttack MLA Pravat Biswal is not completely out of the woods, reliable sources in the agency said.

Pravat Biswal facing questions from the media on Friday night after a five-hour long grilling by the CBI   (Pic: Biswaranjan Mishra)
Pravat Biswal facing questions from the media on Friday night after a five-hour long grilling by the CBI
(Pic: Biswaranjan Mishra)

CBI had called up Biswal and his wife, chairperson of Cuttack Zilla Parishad Laxmi Bilasini, for interrogation on the land deal worth Rs 29 lakh between the latter and the Seashore company last week.

During verification of land documents, it was revealed that the Seashore had made an agreement with Pravat for purchase of 32,5 gunthas of land in the name of Laxmi Bilasini at Benapur on the side of Panikoili-Keonjhar road in Jjapur district.

Later, an agreement was signed between Biswal and Seashore before the notary in Bhubaneswar on May 11, 2011 where the deal was finalized at Rs 29.25 lakh at the rate of Rs 90,000 per gunth of land.

After the deal, the Seashore had made an advance payment of Rs 25 lakh to Laxmi Bilasini in two installments. However, the land was neither registered and nor handed over to the Seashore.

As per the statement of Pravat to the media, Seashore had delayed the land registration by over one year.

On April 25, 2012, stamp papers worth Rs 32,600 were purchased from the sub-registrar’s office, Jajpur Road in which the land owner Laxmi Bilasini, Seashore chief Prashant Das and advocates of both the parties had signed on the paper.

Despite this, the registration of the land could not be made as Seashore was told that the registration would be made only after payment of the remaining Rs 4.25 lakh.

But after the events of May 29, when Pravat’s erstawhile mentor Pyari Mohan Mohapatra staged a failed coup against Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Seashore informed Pravat about its unwillingness to go ahead with the deal and asked him to return the advance money it had given to his wife.

Later, on July 20, 2012, the two parties to the deal entered into an agreement  on a stamp paper for the return of money.

Pravat has claimed he was given Rs 25 lakh by Seashore through a cheque. But as the company demanded the refund in cash, he made the payment in cash.

The couple, during interrogation, had informed the CBI that they had no business deal with the Seashore while presenting all documents pertaining to the land deal.

However, CBI officials, tracing the Seashore’s money trail, are not satisfied with couple’s statement and the documents they had presented since there is no receipt establishing the return of money by Biswal to the Seashore. Besides, the Central investigation agency is suspicious of the validity of the agreement on refund of money signed between Biswal and Seashore.

Sources in the CBI said that it has decided to examine the signature and fingerprints of Pravat and his wife and the Seashore chief signed on the agreement papers.

Besides, the CBI is most likely to investigate the cash-for-land deal between Biswal and the Seashore chief at a time when the state Crime Branch police were on the hunt for the latter.

It is worthwhile here to mention that a filling station of the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) has come up on the said land of Laxmi Bilasini, who has been given the license for it.

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