Delhi Excise Policy Case: ED Raids Properties Of Liquor Bizmen

New Delhi | Updated: 14 October, 2022 2:28 pm IST
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In a massive action against liquor businessmen, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday carried out searches at over 25 locations in connection with a money laundering probe related to the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy 2021-22.

An ED source related to the probe told The New Indian, “The agency is carrying out searches at more than 25 locations in the national capital in connection with the case.”

ED sleuths launched a search operation at properties of some people linked to the sale and distribution of liquor in Delhi, the source said. Businessman Rishi Bali’s residence in west Delhi was also searched by the agency.

The fresh raids come a week after the agency carried out searches at more than 35 locations in three states on October 7 in the liquor policy case, which was registered after massive protests by the BJP over allegations of corruption.

Friday morning raids follow the arrest of Indospirits managing director Sameer Mahendru and some other accused in the last few weeks. Mahendru was arrested on September 28. The agency got some vital leads during the questioning of the accused.

The agency had seized cash to the tune of Rs 1 crore in searches last week. It had searched the premises of Amandeep Dhal, director of Delhi-based Brindco Sales Pvt Ltd and another person named Gautam Malhotra.

Earlier, the ED questioned several people from Punjab and Hyderabad, including two IAS officers and a joint commissioner in the alleged multi-crore corruption case.

Young AAP leader Durgesh Pathak, who represents Rajinder Nagar in the Delhi Assembly, was also quizzed by the agency last month for more than 10 hours.

The money laundering case registered by the ED is based on an FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on August 17 this year. The CBI FIR pertains to allegations of irregularities in the distribution of liquor shop licences under the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22.

Delhi deputy chief minister and AAP’s second-in-command Manish Sisodia has been named as Accused number 1 in this case.

On September 27, the CBI arrested Vijay Nair, AAP communication in-charge and the former CEO of Mumbai-based entertainment and event management company Only Much Louder. It had also arrested Hyderabad-based Abhishek Bonipally.

The CBI had filed the FIR based on a complaint received from Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena, who flagged irregularities in the framing and implementation of the Delhi Excise Policy. The AAP government had announced the scrapping of the policy after a series of protests by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress.

Besides Mahendru, Sisodia and Nair, the CBI has named three public servants – then excise commissioner Arva Gopi Krishna, then deputy excise commissioner Anand Tiwari, and assistant commissioner (excise) Pankaj Bhatnagar.

Some private persons including Manoj Rai, a former employee of Lucknow-based Pernod Ricard; Amit Arora, director of Gurgaon-based Buddy Retail Private Limited; Dinesh Arora, Delhi-based Mahadev Liquors; Sunny Marwah, authorised signatory of Mahadev Liquors; Arun Ramchandra Pillai of Karnataka’s Bangalore and Arjun Pandey of Gurgaon, have also been named in the CBI FIR.

As per the CBI FIR, Sisodia, Krishna, Tiwari, and Bhatnagar were instrumental in recommending and taking decisions pertaining to excise policy for the year 2021-22 without the approval of competent authority with the intention of extending undue favours to the licensee post-tender.

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