BHUBANESWAR: The Crime Branch (CB) on Friday detained Subhransu Lenka, state coordinator of controversial Astha International Limited, a Surat-based money circulation company, accused of embezzling crores of public deposits in Odisha.
"We have registered a case against Lenka based on the complaint of a duped investor. There are serious charges against him and the company. He is being interrogated," said a senior CB officer. Lenka is likely to be arrested on Saturday, sources said.
Astha, against which police registered cheating cases at Surat recently, opened two offices in Bhubaneswar and Berhampur in 2010. A separate cheating case was also registered against the company at Berhampur, where the company collected about Rs 50 crore through different schemes promising high returns. In Bhubaneswar, the company cheated people of more than Rs 50 crore, some duped investors alleged.
The company, on June 5, 2012, came out with a public notice stating it had been incurring losses and would cease to function. It asked its investors to submit documents to claim their money. "We are running from pillar to post to get back our money," said Narendra Swain, an investor.
"Lenka had a lavish lifestyle. He rode expensive cars and was once seen flying in a chopper. We are sure he enjoyed political clout," Swain said. Lenka's mother Sushma is a BJD zilla parishad member in Jagatsinghpur.
Lenka recently told a news channel, "I did not cheat anybody. Some top company functionaries instigated investors against me." His detention followed scores of people demonstrating in front here, demanding transfer of the case from Berhampur police to the CB.
Sources said the company was earlier being identified as Astha Pashupalan Kendra Pvt Ltd. It was renamed Astha International in 2007. It dealt in cattle feed and agricultural products. It also offered investment options to small-time investors and promised them huge returns and expensive gifts, including cars, sources said.
In May, 2010, the company held a press conference here and announced to invest Rs 5,000 crore in Odisha by 2012-end. The company had announced to develop an integrated township project on around 200 acre near Berhampur, a star hotel at Puri and textile mill in Bhubaneswar.