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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

1.4 kg gold seized from MLA’s house, says Odisha vigilance dept

An official statement released by the department said steps are being taken to attach the gold and jewellery and measures are also being taken to freeze bank accounts of Panigrahy and his family.

Written by Aishwarya Mohanty | Bhubaneswar |
Updated: October 19, 2021 5:41:31 am
The searches and seizure attracted strong reactions from the Opposition. Both the BJP and Congress targeted the BJD government since Panigrahy was a close aide of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

After a 23-hour search operation at various locations linked to Gopalpur MLA Pradeep Panigrahy, the Odisha vigilance department said on Monday that it has seized 1,440 grams gold and a designer necklace worth Rs 24.25 lakh from the legislator’s house. An official statement released by the department said steps are being taken to attach the gold and jewellery and measures are also being taken to freeze bank accounts of Panigrahy and his family members.

“The documents found during the searches will be examined by officers of the financial wing of the Vigilance [department] and a professional charted accountant and banking consultants. Cyber Cell of Vigilance will examine all electronic evidence/documents found during the searches,” the statement said.

On Sunday, the department had revealed that a secret assessment of properties attached to Panigrahy had led to unearthing disproportionate assets worth Rs 5.05 crore.

In December, Panigrahy was arrested for cheating people on the pretext of providing jobs, and was expelled from the BJD for “anti-people activities”. He, however, has denied the allegations.

The searches and subsequent seizure attracted strong reactions from Opposition parties. Both the BJP and Congress targeted the ruling BJD government since Panigrahy was a close aide of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

“Gopalpur MLA Pradeep Panigrahy was close to the CM. There are many other such leaders in the party and officials in the state government. In the garb of power and privilege, they have adopted corrupt means to amass crores of rupees. All of them must also be brought under the purview of this investigation,” BJP state vice president Bhrugu Baxipatra said.

“The legislator was with the BJD for 20 years. The corruption has happened over the years while he was still with the BJD. The vigilance department is investigating him only after his expulsion from the party and his fallout with the CM. There must be many more people from within the party who must be investigated,” Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja said.

The BJD however, distanced itself from Panigrahy. When contacted for a comment, the party said the vigilance department was conducting ts investigation and did not comment further.

On December 9, the vigilance department had filed a complaint before a Lokayukta court, stating that Panigrahy “had amassed assets disproportionate to known sources of income by resorting to corrupt practices” based on initial searches conducted in December last year.

Thereafter, the Odisha Lokayukta had directed the department to conduct an inquiry in the case.

On directions of the Lokayukta, the vigilance department registered a case on October 4 for a detailed investigation.

According to the investigation report, Panigrahy made illegal gains as a public servant between May 24, 2009, and November 30, 2020.

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