The Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted searches at 35 locations across Delhi, Chandigarh and Hyderabad Friday in connection with the alleged money laundering probe into Delhi government’s liquor policy. The raids, sources said, are being conducted on premises associated with vendors, distributors and alleged middlemen involved in the liquor business in the national capital under the now-scrapped liquor policy.
The ED had registered a case of money laundering in the matter in the first week of September based on a CBI FIR against Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and 14 others.
Hitting out at the move, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the CBI and ED have conducted 500 raids and more than 300 officers have been working 24×7 to find evidence against Sisodia for the last three months. “They cannot find anything because he has done nothing wrong,” said the CM.
“More than 500 raids, for the 3 months more than 300 ED/CBI officers are working 24 hours to find evidence against Manish Sisodia. They could find nothing because nothing was done. Time of many officers is being wasted for their dirty politics. How will the country progress like this?” Kejriwal tweeted.
Sources said that from one of the locations, the agency recovered around Rs 6 crore in cash.
The ED also searched the offices of India Ahead news channel in connection with the case. “We have also questioned a senior office bearer of the company promoting the channel,” an ED official said. Representatives of India Ahead news channel were not available for comment.
The development come days after the ED arrested Sameer Mahendru of Indospirit for his alleged role in irregularities associated with the liquor policy. The ED has earlier conducted two major searches in which 75 locations were searched. The CBI has earlier arrested Vijay Nair, current communications in-charge of the AAP, in connection with the case.
The CBI FIR had alleged: “Praveen Kumar Rai, Director, MHA… has conveyed directions of competent authority for enquiry into the matter of irregularities in framing and implementation of 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 2021-22 without approval of competent authority with an intention to extend undue favours to 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 claimed in its FIR.
“Source further revealed 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,” the FIR claimed.
“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 licensees 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,” it added.