OPL-chit fund link: Ashirbad deposes before CBI

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) secretary Ashirbad Behera on Monday deposed before the officials of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with alleged links of chit fund companies with franchisees of Odisha Premier League (OPL).

Behera’s deposition carries significance following the January 6 arrest of Ranjan Das, the chairman of tainted chit fund firm Swastik India Multi State Credit Cooperative which allegedly duped gullible investors to the tune of Rs 10 crore in Odisha. Swastik India was listed among 44 companies which are being probed by the CBI in chit fund scam.

CBI sources said Behera’s interrogation is expected to revolve around the investment of Das in the tournament since the latter was also the owner of Balasore Bagha, a franchisee of OPL. But CBI believes the chit fund firm was surrogate owner of some teams which participated in the event via other people.

Behera, who had appeared a number of times before the investigating agency earlier in connection with the case, is expected to face questions regarding the tournament’s sponsorship. Barring few co-sponsors, scam tainted Artha Tatwa (AT) group was the title sponsor of the event and had donated Rs 1 crore for the tournament.

It is worthwhile to mention here that Das had allegedly founded AT group, also facing CBI probe, before setting up Swastik India. AT Group is among 44 firms under CBI scanner for duping thousands of investors in the State through fraudulent money circulation schemes.

OPL was started in 2011, with 10 teams representing 10 cities of the State. However, its second edition was cancelled after the income tax officials hounded the team owners about the source of money spent in the tournament. Though OCA tried to revive its third edition, it could not succeed.