The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Odisha Police Crime Branch on Thursday intensified its investigation into the alleged loan scam by Sambad/ Eastern Media Ltd by quizzing the branch manager of the Odisha Gramya Bank. Apart from this, a team of the EOW also carried out further investigation at the media house office and seized some computer hard disks of the accounts department today.
Earlier in the day, the BJD expelled MLA Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, who is also the Sambad Editor, citing anti-people activity.
Let’s have a look at what is the loan scam all about that the BJD claims to be an ‘organised bank fraud’.
The entire loan was reportedly being taken by the media house in the name of its employees. But the money was going straight to its owners. Blank cheques were collected from the employees by allegedly threatening them to take away their jobs. Such threat calls were reportedly made by the HR department. Such serious allegations are now surfacing after the progress in the investigation by the EOW.
As per the allegations levelled by an ex-employee, the HR head of the media house, Baijayanti Kar had called him and asked to apply for a loan in 2015. The official had even said that Soumya Patnaik needs money for which all employees have been asked to take loans from bank. Any deviation from the order will lead to retrenchment.
The complainant alleged that later he was taken to a bank and signatures were taken on six blank cheques. The HR official had also kept the cheque after opening the loan account. It was then he learnt that a loan of Rs 5 lakh was taken in his name. The company assured that the loan would be repaid by the company. Later, he was called to the accounts department and given Rs 40,000. He was told that Soumya Patnaik had given the money to buy a motorcycle and the money would be deducted from the salary every month.
Some employees have also alleged that despite getting less salary, the amount was being inflated substantially in the salary slip. The salary slip was subsequently deposited in the bank to avail loans. Some amount of the loan was given to the employees while bulk was taken by the company. The money given to the employees was again deducted from their salaries.
“The rate of interest in the loan scheme was 4 per cent. But the commercial loan interest was 12 per cent. It is a clear case of money laundering. Within 2 minutes, signatures were taken on blank cheques and even the bank did not ask anything,” said Purna Deo, an ex-employee.
Another former employee, Bhairab Brahma said, “We have not taken any loan money. The office employees used to take it.”
Meanwhile, Sambad authorities, Soumya Patnaik, and the HR or the Accounts department of the media house could not be contacted over such allegations.