BHUBANESWAR: Some media entrepreneurs and builders, who on Tuesday were interrogated for their alleged links with the Artha Tatwa (AT) Group, washed their hands off the fraud and pleaded innocence.
Contrary to the bankrupt AT Group chief Pradip Sethi's statement to police that he diverted crores of rupees into real estate and other businesses and altogether 22 persons had financially benefitted from him, eight of them appeared before Kharvela Nagar police and claimed that the AT Group chief owes them money.
Bikas Swain, owner of an Odia daily, and Lipi Das, owner of an Odia news channel, denied striking any dubious deals with AT Group. "I received Rs 65 lakh towards advertisement from AT Group from 2011 till date. Sethi still owes me Rs 50 lakh. I showed the bills to police," Swain said.
Das' husband Manoj said, "We had a business relationship with AT. The company planned to start six TV channels. The company struck a Rs 90 lakh-deal with us to hire our technology to telecast his channels."
"AT gave us Rs 90 lakh as security deposit. But the company did not start any channel and blocked my telecast device. I incurred nearly Rs 3 crore loss due to the deal. We will move court, seeking the loss amount from AT Group," Das said.
City-based realtors and businessmen Satyabrata Dhir, Vineet Lalani, Sagar Ray, Dharmendra Bothra, Sanjay Panda and Ashis Dhal said the AT Group bagged the marketing rights of their real estate and other businesses, but did not pay them.
Dhir said Sethi owes him nearly Rs 3 crore. "He purchased several flats and plots from me, but did not pay me the whole amount," Dhir said. He, however, declined to divulge details about the dealings.
A few of them could not appear in the police station and instead sent their representatives (lawyers and chartered accountants) to face the grilling.
Odisha Cricket Association secretary Asirbad Behera is slated to appear at Kharvel Nagar police station on Wednesday. AT Group reportedly sponsored the Odisha Premier League (OPL). Sethi had allegedly given Rs 75 lakh to OCA for Ranji Trophy and another Rs 25 lakh for OPL, police said.
AT Group has been in the eye of the chit fund storm for allegedly embezzling public money to the tune of over Rs 500 crore by floating ponzi schemes and diverting the money into other businesses.