The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is conducting searches at 35 locations across the country in connection with a money laundering probe it has launched in connection with the Delhi government’s now scrapped liquor policy.
Sources said the searches are going on at different locations in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Chennai, Chandigarh, and Jalandhar among others. They said the searches are currently targeting various vendors, distributors and middlemen engaged by the Delhi government under its now scrapped excise policy.
“The people mentioned in the CBI FIR as accused and their conduits are being raided. No leader of the AAP is being searched currently,” an ED official said confirming that the raids did not include premises associated with Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
Among the locations searched, sources said, is the Jor Bagh residence of Sameer Mahendru, the Managing Director of Indospirit Group, who is an accused in the case.
The ED case, which was registered three days ago, is based on a CBI First Information Report (FIR) filed last month. The CBI had booked Manish Sisodia, three excise department officials and various vendors and distributors among the 15 accused it had arraigned in its FIR.
The CBI FIR had 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 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.
The FIR also said that a person named Arjun Pandey collected an amount of about Rs 2 to 4 crore from 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.