The CBI Friday conducted searches at seven places, including BJD legislator Debi Prasad Mishra’s official residence, in connection with the Rs 578-crore Seashore chit fund scam.
Simultaneous searches were carried out at the residences of former tourism director Rabi Narayan Nanda, businessman Prasanata Kumar Patnaik and Mishra’s brother Bishnu Mishra in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.
Mishra, who has tested positive for Covid-19, is in home isolation.
The case relates to Seashore group, which was awarded a contract to set up a boating project in the Mahanadi and a restaurant near Cuttack, despite the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau raising concerns about the company in 2011.
When Seashore was awarded the contract in 2008-09, Mishra was the state tourism minister.
In 2014, the Supreme Court ordered an investigation into allegations of the company raising around Rs 578 crore from investors by offering them 36 per cent interest per annum against their deposits. The capital was raised without the company itself on the stock exchange and registering under the Odisha Self Help Cooperative Societies Act to keep itself out of the government’s check as well as to evade taxes.
In March 2015 and January 2018, the CBI filed two chargesheets before a CBI court and accused Seashore chief Prashant Dash and his brother Prabhat of misappropriation of funds amounting to Rs 578.2 crore between 2006 and 2011. The case is under trial.
On Friday, Mishra told the media: “The CBI inquired about the project. I had allowed Seashore to set up a boating project in Mahanadi and a restaurant near Cuttack. The company was also given permission to manage a government-run guest house at Atri in Khurda district. I have been questioned in connection to this earlier as well. The decision was not taken at a personal level, but was the decision of the government. They sought the relevant documents which I have informed them are with the tourism department. I have submitted all the documents which I had.”
Meanwhile, the ruling BJD claimed that a political conspiracy was behind the searches.
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