Bhubaneswar: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today arrested former advocate-general (AG) Asok Mohanty for his alleged links with Pradeep Sethy, chairman-cum-managing director of money deposit circulation company Artha Tatwa (AT) Group.
Mohanty had bought a double-storey house on a 4,000-sqft plot at Bidanasi in the Cuttack Development Authority area from Sethy for Rs 1.01 crore. The CBI interrogated Mohanty on September 13, a day after he stepped down as the advocate- general.
“Mohanty was arrested on charges of misappropriating the AT Group funds and misusing his position for personal benefit,” said a CBI official. Sethy had sold the plot to Mohanty in October 2012 and the development authority had transferred the property in his name in March 2013.
Sources said that during the CBI interrogation, Mohanty had presented documents of house purchase and the related money transaction details. He had asserted that the house was not a gift to him by Sethy. Later, the CBI verified his claim with officials of the authority and the banks concerned.
Though the ownership of the building had been transferred in the name of Mohanty, the CBI officials were not satisfied with the explanation given by him about the bank transactions related to the deal.
Having investigated the matter for about a week, a team of CBI today went to Mohanty’s Cuttack residence and arrested him. Following a medical check-up at Capital Hospital, he was produced in the court of special judicial magistrate, CBI, and taken on two-day remand by the central agency.
An eminent lawyer, Mohanty was appointed the advocate-general on June 10, 2009. He submitted his resignation on May 17 after the results of the general elections were announced. The government his resignation on September 12 after it became clear that the CBI would interrogate him in connection with the sham deposit collection scam.
Following his arrest, Mohanty told reporters: “God and Guru are my witnesses. I have acted in good faith. I appeal to the people of the state who had reposed faith in me to continue to have the same trust in me.”
The BJD smelt politics in Mohanty’s arrest. The party’s Cuttack Lok Sabha member Bhartuhari Mahatab said: “I know Mohanty. There was no need to arrest him. The CBI is trying to denigrate people holding high offices to remain in news.”
State BJP spokesperson Suresh Pujari was harsh in his attack. “The advocate-general is the first law officer of the state. How could he buy a house from Sethy when the latter had been declared an absconder by the police? The crime branch, which had earlier probed the case, also knew about it but remained silent. The chief minister was also aware of it.”
State Congress chief Jaydev Jena also launched an offensive against the government on the issue. “They stand exposed. They have nowhere to hide now,” he said.
In another development, the CBI today interrogated the family members of Sethy and a builder, Ugrasen Sahu. Sahu had allegedly taken Rs 5 crore from the group to expand his business.
In a related development, hearing on the anticipatory bail plea of the ruling party’s Banki MLA Pravat Tripathy could not take place today in Orissa High Court, which adjourned it because of the death of an advocate.