Bhubaneswar: The CBI on Friday arrested a ruling BJD MLA in Odisha for his alleged complicity with Artha Tatwa Group chief Pradip Sethy, who has duped thousands through a chit fund scam in the state.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), probing the chit fund scam, interrogated Banki constituency MLA Pravat Tripathy for his alleged links with the AT Group and later arrested him as he failed to give satisfactory answers.
The agency made the arrest after interrogating him for the fifth time in recent days. The CBI had grilled Tripathy on October 25 for two-and-a-half hours.
A CBI spokesperson from New Delhi said: "Tripathy was arrested for taking huge money from AT Group and for a larger conspiracy in the chit fund scam."
The BJD leader is the first political arrest by CBI even though it has interrogated several political leaders, including party MP Ramchandra Hansda.
The CBI, during simultaneous raids on the houses of Tripathy in Banki and Kaligali in Cuttack on August 16, seized some important documents confirming his links with the AT Group.
Apprehending his possible arrest, Tripathy had moved the Odisha High Court seeking anticipatory bail but it was rejected on October 20.
Earlier, the CBI quizzed him about an award given to Pradip Sethy in 2011 and an audio CD containing a conversation between Tripathy and the AT Group chief.
In the CD, Tripathy is allegedly asking for money from Sethy for a function in his constituency.
CBI officials also raided the residence of his close associate Subash Padhi in Banki and scrutinised his bank accounts for possible leads to financial transactions with the chit fund company, which has cheated thousands of depositors.
Meanwhile, the ruling BJD tried to distance itself from the Banki MLA, saying the party has nothing to do with him. Soon after news broke that he was arrested by the CBI, the party also suspended him.
Senior BJD leader Sashibhusan Behera said: "He (Pravat) is solely responsible for his own misdeeds. The party has nothing to do with him. It would not tarnish the image of party and its leader Naveen Patnaik in any way."