Chit Fund scam: CBI raids Astha offices at 4 places in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: The CBI on Wednesday conducted simultaneous raids on the offices of the Astha International Ltd, a Surat-based chit fund company, at 14 places in the country, including four in Odisha.

Reports said the raid is on in Surat, Goa, Indore and Jabalpur and Bhubaneswar, Jagatsinghpur, Angul and Berhampur in Odisha.

In Berhampur, the CBI officials raided the residence of Subhranshu Lenka, the head of Astha Group’s Odisha branch while in Bhubaneswar, the raid is on at a rented house in Nageswar Tangi area where family members of Lenka are staying. Sources said the CBI officials have seized several documents and compact discs (CDs) from the house. Besides, they have also seized documents and some photographs of Lenka with some women from a house in Sahid Nagar area where the company had opened a branch office.

Notably, Lenka, along with Chandrasen Sivaji Chouhan, director of the company and Sapkale, another director of the company, are presently lodged in Jharpada Circle Jail in Bhubaneswar.

It may be mentioned that the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Odisha Crime Branch police, which was earlier probing the chit fund scam in the Astha Group, had arrested Lenka. Later, the case was handed over the CBI.

In Odisha, the company has 8-10 branch offices in various places including Bhubaneswar, Berhampur, Balasore, Rourkela, Balugan and Keonjhar. Sources in the CBI said that the company has duped over at least Rs 100 crore from nearly 10,000 investors in Odisha.

Before handing over the case to the CBI, the Crime Branch had recommended to the Finance department attachment of properties of Astha International, including a Mercedes car, cash worth over Rs 50,000 deposited in the bank account and 17 acres of land in Balugan, Chhatrapur and Tangi areas.