Odisha EOW Grills Gramya Bank Manager In Sambad Loan Fraud Case
Bhubaneswar: The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Odisha Crime Branch on Thursday questioned the branch manager of Odisha Gramya Bank’s Jaydev Vihar branch here in connection with alleged loan fraud by Sambad/Eastern Media Ltd.
According to EOW sources, the media organisation, owned and edited by Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, who is also a MLA from Khandapada, ran a “meticulously organised loan scam” in which at least Rs 50 crore loan was taken from various banks by adopting fraudulent means and coercing employees.
Over 350 employees of vernacular daily Sambad and Eastern Media Limited were reportedly forced by their employers to avail loans in their names from a Gramya Bank here. Initial investigation revealed that most employees were asked to avail of a loan of Rs 5 lakh each under the bank’s easy money loan scheme and their salary certificates were allegedly forged by the authorities of Sambad/Eastern Media Ltd.
The EOW has asked the bank to share the documents submitted by the company’s employees and is also verifying whether it had then adopted proper verification and followed due procedures for sanctioning loans, the sources further said.
Though the media house repaid the loans, it resorted to fraudulent methods to avail the loans with the help of employees. A few employees were allegedly forced to take loans twice to thrice and the EMI to be paid was almost equal to their net salary. The organisation was repaying the loan in 60 instalments. “The pattern seems not to be just one instance or coincidence but a well thought of conspiracy and organised bank fraud. The actual figure would be much higher,” said an officer.
The EOW, which again raided Sambad office on Thursday, further said that it was also investigating loans availed from SBI and other banks.
Notably, the investigation into the alleged fraud began after Ashim Mohapatra, a former employee of the daily, lodged a complaint under Indian Penal Code 506, 467, 468, 471, 420, and 120 B, on September 16.
The news daily, however, has rubbished the claims of fraud in its columns and dubbed the ongoing investigation as a attack on press for questioning the ruling dispensation and 5T Secretary VK Pandian. In editorial articles in the Odia daily as well as bytes to journalists, Soumya had attacked 5T secretary’s whirlwind district visits and stranglehold over the government and party.
Meanwhile, Naveen Patnaik has expelled Soumya from BJD, citing the EOW case against against.