The CBI Sunday opened lookout circulars (LoC) against eight people in the Delhi liquor policy case in which Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is one of the 15 accused named in the FIR. Agency officials clarified that no LoC has been opened against Sisodia or any excise official named in the FIR. CBI sources said the LoCs have been issued against private individuals whose names figure in the FIR, which include liquor licence holders, vendors, distributors and alleged middlemen.
This comes after it conducted searches at 31 locations, including Sisodia’s home, on Friday and began questioning people in connection with its probe into alleged irregularities in the rollout of the Delhi excise policy, which was withdrawn recently.
Sources said the LoCs have been opened against Vijay Nair, CEO of event management company Only Much Louder; Amandeep Dhal, Director of Brindco Sales Pvt Ltd; Sameer Mahendru, Managing Director of Indospirit Group; Amit Arora, Director of Buddy Retail Pvt Ltd; Dinesh Arora, associated with Radha Industries; Sunny Marwah; authorised signatory of Mahadev Liquors; Arun Ramchandra Pillay, a Karnataka resident accused of moving money; and Arjun Pandey, an alleged middleman. CBI sources said the agency has also not opened an LoC against Manoj Rai, former employee of liquor giant Pernod Ricard.
Of those against whom LoCs have been opened, Vijay Nair and Dinesh Arora are already said to be abroad. Rai in a public statement Saturday said he was not absconding and would cooperate with the investigations.
Sources said LoCs have been opened based on the agency’s assessment of the accused’s flight risk.
On Saturday, the agency had questioned some of the accused in the case. Sources said more accused are being called for questioning and documents and electronic devices recovered during raids at Sisodia’s residence and premises associated with the accused are being scrutinised.
The premises searched by CBI on Friday included those linked to former Delhi Excise Commissioner Arava Gopi Krishna and former Deputy Excise Commissioner Anand Tiwari.
In its FIR, the CBI named 15 people, with Sisodia’s name at the top of the list.
The FIR stated: “Praveen Kumar Rai, Director, MHA… has conveyed directions of competent authority for enquiry into the matter of irregularities in framing and implementation of the excise policy of GNCTD of Delhi for the year 2021-22 by Central Bureau of Investigation. He has also forwarded a letter of L-G Vinai Kumar Saxena alleging irregularities in framing and implementation of the excise policy. The OM is enclosed herewith, which discloses that Manish Sisodia, Deputy CM; Arava Gopi Krishna, then Commissioner (Excise); Anand Tiwari, then Deputy Commissioner (Excise); and Pankaj Bhatnagar, Assistant Commissioner (Excise) were instrumental in recommending and taking decisions pertaining to excise policy for the year 2021-22 without approval of competent authority with an intention to extend undue favours to the licencees post tender.”
“Apart from the above, reliable sources have revealed that Vijay Nair, former CEO of Only Much Louder, an entertainment and event management company; Manoj Rai, ex-employee of Pernod Ricard; Amandeep Dhal, owner of Brindco Spirits; and Sameer Mahendru, owner of Indospirit, are actively involved in irregularities in framing and implementation of excise policy,” the CBI said in its FIR.
“Source further revealed that some of the L-1 licence holders are issuing credit notes to retail vendors with an ab-initio intention to divert the funds as undue pecuniary advantage to public servants. In furtherance to this, they are showing false entries in their books of accounts to keep their record straight. Source further revealed that Amit Arora, director of Buddy Retail Pvt Limited, Gurgaon; Dinesh Arora and Arjun Pandey are close associates of Manish Sisodia and are actively involved in managing and diverting the undue pecuniary advantage collected from liquor licencees to accused public servants. Source further revealed that Sameer Mahendru, MD, Indospirit, has transferred an amount of one crore to the account of Radha Industries. Radha Industries is being managed by Dinesh Arora. Source further revealed that Arun Ramchandra Pillai used to collect undue pecuniary advantage from Sameer Mahendru for onward transmission to accused public servant through Vijay Nair. A person named Arjun Pandey has once collected huge cash amount of about Rs 2-4 crore from Sameer Mahendru on behalf of Vijay Nair. Source has further informed that Mahadev Liquors, a proprietorship firm, was granted L-1 licence. Sunny Marwah is the authorised signatory of the firm. He is also director in companies/firms being managed by family of Late Ponty Chadha. Source has informed that Sunny Marwah is in close contact with accused public servants and has been regularly giving undue pecuniary advantage to them,” the CBI’s FIR alleged.