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CBI Searches Former Odisha Minister's Residences in Ponzi Scam

File photo of CBI headquarters in New Delhi. (PTI)

File photo of CBI headquarters in New Delhi. (PTI)

CBI teams swooped on the residences of Mishra in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, and company and residential premises of his brother Bishnu Prasad Mishra and former Director of Tourism Rabi Narayan Nanda.

The CBI on Friday conducted searches at eight locations, including the residences of Odisha MLA and former tourism minister Debi Prasad Mishra and others, in connection with its probe into the about Rs 1000-crore ponzi scam allegedly involving Seashore Group of Companies, officials said. CBI teams swooped on the residences of Mishra in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, and company and residential premises of his brother Bishnu Prasad Mishra and former Director of Tourism Rabi Narayan Nanda.

The agency also raided premises of Prasanta Kumar Patnaik, the Director of Swagatika Impex Pvt Ltd, in Thane (West) in Maharashtra. Officials said the agency had booked Seashore Group of Companies in its FIR combining all 23 cases against it. The agency had filed a number of charge sheets in connection with the scam.

They said the searches were part of further investigation to unearth "larger conspiracy" according to the directions of the Supreme Court, they said. Mishra found himself embroiled in the controversy as the Seashore Group was awarded the Mahanadi Boating Project when he was the tourism minister, sources said.

The state government had signed an agreement with Seashore Group for a water sports complex with a restaurant in Cuttack and allowed the company to manage a state-run guest house in Khurda in 2008-09 during Mishra's tenure as the tourism minister, the sources said. Mishra, who is in home isolation after testing COVID-19 positive, said it was "not a raid" and that the officials "just wanted some documents".

Speaking to reporters after officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) left his residence, the former tourism minister said, "They asked me about the documents of the project and I told them they are in the department and notwith me." Mishra, a sitting MLA from Badamba, said he has all along cooperated with the CBI. The BJD leader said that he was not given prior information regarding the visit of the central investigating agency to his place.

The CBI team was in his house for about two hours. The CBI had grilled two associates of the former minister, Dilip Mishra and Prafulla Singh, for nearly four hours in August.

Seashore Group is one of the 44 chit fund companies in Odisha that came under the scanner of the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) after the Supreme Court gave its order to probe their finances and transactions.

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