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Indospirit MD Sameer Mahendru was ‘kingpin’ of excise policy: ED in court

The ED stated that Mahendru “used proxy/dummy persons to conceal the real owner of the businesses".

Residence of Sameer Mahendru at Jor Bagh 207 in New Delhi, where CBI had conducted searches last month. (Express Photo By Amit Mehra)

The Enforcement Directorate has told a Delhi court that Sameer Mahendru, managing director of Indospirit Group, was one of the kingpins and major beneficiaries of the now scrapped Delhi excise policy, which was in contradiction with the policy’s stated objectives. The agency is probing a money laundering case filed in connection with the policy, and Mahendru, who was arrested by the ED earlier in the day, is one of the 15 people named in the CBI FIR.

Special Judge M K Nagpal sent Mahendru to ED custody till October 6, observing that his custodial interrogation was necessary to ascertain the exact volume and extent of laundered proceeds of crime.

The court also noted that he needs to be confronted with digital and physical records stated to have been seized during searches, and to “go to the root of cartelisation and volume of kickbacks alleged to have been paid to the government servants” involved in drafting and implementation of the excise policy.

The ED, represented by special public prosecutor N K Matta and Faizan, had moved an application seeking 14-day custody.

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The agency had in their remand application stated that Mahendru “is one of the kingpins and a major beneficiary in the entire policy”. It stated that he conspired with other persons/entities having interests in the Delhi liquor trade to form a nexus of operations from manufacturing, wholesale and retail, which contradicted the stated objectives of the policy.

The ED stated that Mahendru “used proxy/dummy persons to conceal the real owner of the businesses”.

As per the ED case, Mahendru had a partnership stake of 35 per cent in Indospirit LLP, which got a wholesale L1 licence. He also obtained two retail zone licences under the name of Khao Gali restaurants that is under the name of his father-in-law “but (he) used to take all financial decisions in Khao Gali” and was the beneficial owner of the company, it is alleged.

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The ED alleged that the profit that the company made between November 17, 2011, and August 31, 2022, of Rs 50 crore, is “nothing but an undue benefit which has been generated out of criminal activities. These proceeds of crime were again layered and laundered in the guise of profit through various persons and entities”.

The ED alleged that Mahendru was directly/indirectly controlling the manufacturing, wholesale and retail businesses, in violation of the Excise policy.

“Mahendru extended his scheme of cartelisation beyond his own entities by defeating the objectives of the policy… he was also involved in heavy kickback in advance and allowed dummy partners in Indospirit,” the remand application read.

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Advocate Dhruv Gupta, who appeared on behalf of the accused, opposed the ED remand by submitting that there was not a single ground in their plea besides pointing out the magnitude of the matter. “They say 103 places were raided. Do they belong to me? The answer is in the negative,” Gupta argued.

Gupta told the court that six statements have been made by Mahendru to the agency.

“What more to add? Nothing is to be recovered from my possession. I might have taken a stand in my statements; what more can I do? Unless I say something to their benefit,” Gupta told the court.

First published on: 29-09-2022 at 01:58:01 am
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