Pradeep Sethy, CMD, Artha Tatwa Group
BHUBANESWAR: CBI is hot on the trail of some land sharks, owing allegiance to influential politicians in Khurda and Ganjam districts, for facilitating Artha Tatwa (AT) Group chief Pradeep Sethy to buy land at inflated prices.
Sethy, who had diverted bulk of the investors' money into real estate to earn quick bucks, failed to dispose those land after learning about the actual price of the property.
"Sethy wanted to sell the land at higher prices but failed to do so because the property was worth much less than what he had paid. During interrogation, he accused his senior employees of conniving with land brokers and politicians to cheat him," said a CBI officer.
"Some of those employees and brokers are on the run. The senior employees took huge commission from brokers. Though Sethy uttered names of some politicians in the land fraud, we are verifying his charges," the officer said.
While Sethi earlier told the media that he owned nearly 175 acre at different places in Odisha, the commissionerate of police (previous investigating agency) had found that he owned nearly 241 acre in 10 tehsils of the state.
Sources said Sethy bought land for nearly Rs 250 crore, incurring heavy loss.
The property should have been worth Rs 120 crore. Sethy owned nearly 140 acre in and around Bhubaneswar.
Real estate business was his only hope to mobilize money as he was paying hefty commission to agents, who were collecting deposits from people by promising to double their investments in quick time.
"While Sethy was spending nearly 50% of the collections on commission and office management, the rest he diverted into other trades, mostly real estate to mint money. His business collapsed and he failed to repay investments after his land deals backfired," the officer said.
Sethi's plan of starting housing projects on the outskirts of the city did not work out as his company went bust.
Police sealed 139 flats, including 12 flats in Bhubaneswar.
Two duplexes and a few commercial establishments, purchased by Sethy in Bhubaneswar and Kolkata, too were sealed.