BHUBANESWAR: The chit fund scams in Odisha took a new turn on Friday after an audio CD containing purported conversations between an alleged mastermind and two unidentified persons was telecast in a TV channel.
The OTV telecast two separate conversations by one “Sethibabu” and as the name AT (Aartha Tatwa) was mentioned in the first conservation, the channel could only hazard a guess that AT CMD Pradip Sethi possibly spoke regarding his company’s affairs with the two persons separately. Sethi has been arrested by the Commissionerate Police and is currently lodged in Jharpada jail in Bhubaneswar.
In the first conversation, a person speaks to “Sethibabu” (perhaps Pradip Sethi) pertaining to the Crime Branch probe (here the conversation is not entirely audible). The person informs Sethi about microfinance companies being targeted and how it started with the Seashore Group and how the process is weakening now. The caller advises Sethi that depositors must not lodge complaints and he should be able to handle that.
The caller then informs Sethi that it’s not possible to meet him now and no official letters can also be given. He requests Sethi to do something as the Banki Mahotsav is approaching. Sethi in his reply requests the caller to give him time till the 7th of the month. The caller further says, “I will ask Asishbabu to speak to you on 4th and 5th or I will speak to you directly.”
In the second conversation, a voice resembling that of Pradip Sethi speaks to an unidentified person regarding payments from Jagneswar Babu, who is presently a prominent leader of the Odisha Jan Morcha. Sethi asks the person whether he spoke to Jagneswar Babu regarding the payment. The unidentified person replies, “I’ve not spoken to him. But if you are asking me then I can speak to him today.” Sethi then asks whether Jagneswar is in a position to repay as he is busy travelling after formation of the OJM.
Both persons drag the conversation further and the unidentified person informs that as per calculations, he (Jagneswar) has perhaps “50 or 60” to repay. Sethi raises objections over this figure and says out of “dedha” (one and a half), he has paid “20 to 25” and still much remains to be repaid.
The probe into the alleged chit fund scam in Odisha was so far confined to the arrests of the kingpins and unearthing and sealing of their properties. The links of the alleged masterminds with influential people have so far remained hidden from public scrutiny. The telecast of the audio CD is likely to unmask the identity of some powerful persons, who had murky dealings with the kingpins of the chit fund scams.
The TV channel, however, clarified that it was not certain whether the CD was genuine or doctored. The channel said it has sent the CD to a laboratory to judge its authenticity.