Raid On Sambad Office In Loan Fraud Case, Odisha EOW Denies Acting Under Pressure
Bhubaneswar: A team of Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Odisha Crime Branch reached the office of vernacular daily, Sambad, at Rasulgarh here around 1.30 pm on Monday to investigate the allegation of load fraud against its editor Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, also a BJD MLA from Khandapada.
According to sources, three teams comprising 12 officers, including four DSPs and six inspectors, along with Commissionerate Police are carrying out raids at the office of the leading daily on the basis of a complaint lodged by a former employee against Soumya and HR head Baijayanti Kar, alleging that he was forced to take a loan from a bank in the city in 2015 by submitting required documents, but he never received the loan amount.
“He received no document from the bank and later found out that a loan of Rs 5 lakh was sanctioned in his favour. He suspects that a fake account was created using his documents and the entire loan amount was transferred to it,” his lawyer Dibyajyoti Das told the media.
On the delay in filing the complaint, Das said that it took his client years to understand the fraud as the bank officials were not cooperating with him.
According to reports, the complainant worked with Sambad for about 12 years before quitting the organisation in 2020.
The complainant further alleged that more than 300 employees of Sambad/ Eastern Media Ltd have been forced to sign on forged documents and about Rs 50 crore have been fraudulently secured by Soumya Pattnaik, using those forged papers and threatening the staff, an EOW release said.
The agency has examined some vital witnesses and collected incriminating documents from the office during the searches. “So far, 15-20 ex-employees of Sambad have come forward with complaint of such forceful loans taken against their names using forged documents. Further investigation is on,” it further said.
The EOW also clarified that it was investigating the case in a free and fair manner and denied reports that it was acting under pressure. “During entire raid/ search, EOW officers were very polite to Sambad officials. Search was conducted ensuring that there is no inconvenience to the staff and without disturbing the daily work of the newspaper,” it said.
Soumya, who earlier declined to comment on the matter, had recently grabbed headlines for his critical views on the ruling dispensation and 5T secretary V K Pandian. In editorial articles in the Odia daily as well as bytes to journalists, the legislator had attacked 5T secretary’s whirlwind district visits and stranglehold over the government and party. He was slammed by BJD leaders, who accused him of blackmailing the party, and was removed from the post of party’s vice-president on September 12.
On September 16, the EOW had grilled real estate developer Tapan Mohanty, who is ‘samundhi’ of the Khandapada MLA, in connection with alleged irregularities in some construction works in Z One Apartments in Raghunathpur area of Bhubaneswar. The team had earlier raided his office and had examined certain documents.