Artha Tatwa (AT) Group chief Pradip Sethi
BHUBANESWAR: After AT Group's top bosses, police have now decided to turn the heat on agents, who lured gullible investors and collected huge amounts. Police sources said AT Group agents were getting the highest commission, nearly 40%, compared to other money circulation companies in Odisha.
Agents, who collected deposits above Rs 1 lakh, would come under the glare of the investigating agency. AT Group had mobilized around 3,000 agents across the state. Police are likely to interrogate an agent, who collected Rs 17 lakh from retired IPS officer Sukumar Panigrahi, based on whose complaint the Kharvela Nagar police on February 7 registered a case against AT Group chief Pradip Sethi and 10 other directors of the company.
"While investors were promised nearly 3% interest in a month, agents were getting up to 40% commission on a single deposit. We are preparing a list of agents, whose collections exceeded Rs 1 lakh," DCP Nitinjeet Singh said. "We have the information that the AT Group was paying the maximum commission and other incentives to its agents than other non-banking financial companies," Singh said. Sources said other companies were offering commissions between 7% and 10% to agents.
At least 45 AT Group agents were gifted with small cars in the past two years. "Some high-end agents played smart and took cash as commission instead of the cars. They deposited the commission amount and again took commission from it," Singh said.
Police said they would try to seize those cars, possessed by big agents, who became rich overnight by bringing heavy deposits for the company.
Agents defended themselves and said they had no idea about the mischievous motive of the company. "We were just working for the company and trying to sell the products. Why should we be held responsible," asked Santosh Kumar Swain, a city-based agent, who collected nearly Rs 3 lakh from the market. "We are equally under pressure like the investors," Swain said.
In a related development, the Khurda police on Monday took Sethi into its custody for interrogation for two days. Sethi allegedly cheated hundreds of investors of nearly Rs 7 crore in and around Khurda, said sub-divisional police officer (Khurda) Jaynarayan Satpathy.