Delhi Excise Policy Case: ED says approvals given beyond working hours

Delhi Excise Department burned the midnight oil to give a large number of approvals, mostly to people who are part of the cartels

NEW DELHI | Updated: 05 January, 2023 1:14 am IST
ED’s probe revealed that about 5,933 times the IP addresses of L1 Indospirits wholesalers and L7 retail zones Khao Gali were seen in conflict (Photo For Representational Purpose Only)

Even as a CBI court on Tuesday granted bail to five accused in Delhi’s now-scrapped excise policy 2021-22 case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had alleged that a large number of approvals were given by the excise department beyond the working hours, including “late night”.

According to the ED chargesheet that was filed before a Special PMLA court here last month, the financial probe agency alleged that “a large number of approvals were given by Excise officials beyond the working hours or late at night”.

The ED said that a “forensic audit” was conducted by ED through TCS on the servers of the Excise Department, where the ESCIMS portal, used by the Excise Department and its stakeholders, for example L1 wholesalers and L7 retail zones, is hosted.

“The official working hours as per the Excise Department are 8 am to 8 pm. However, as per the forensic audit report submitted by TCS, it has been revealed that there are 3,048 cases where the excise officials deputed to approve the stocks uploaded by LI wholesalers have approved the same between 10 pm to 7 am,” the ED alleged.

It further said that the maximum approvals have been given to the LIs who are part of the cartels, including Indo Spirits in 1526 cases.

The ED’s money laundering probe also revealed that about 5,933 times the IP addresses of L1 Indospirits wholesalers and L7 retail zones Khao Gali were seen in conflict.

The ED claimed that the IP addresses that were common between Indospirits and Khaogali restaurants were verified on a sample basis, and as per the reports received from Internet Service Providers (ISPs), “the location of the user is the office of Indospirits Distribution Limited”.

The ED had registered a case on money laundering on the basis of the CBI FIR filed against Delhi Deputy Chief minister Manish Sisodia and 14 others on the basis of a complaint from the Lt Governor of Delhi.

The CBI filed the FIR on August 17 this year based on a complaint received from Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena, who flagged irregularities in the framing and implementation of the Delhi Excise Policy.

Besides Sisodia, the CBI has named 14 others, including three public servants: former excise commissioner Arva Gopi Krishna, former deputy excise commissioner Anand Tiwari and assistant commissioner (excise) Pankaj Bhatnagar.

Some private persons, including Vijay Nair, the AAP communication in-charge and former CEO of Mumbai-based Only Much Louder; Sameer Mahendru, MD of Indospirits; 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, an 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.

On Tuesday, Special Judge MK Nagpal granted bail to two former Excise Department officials, Kuldeep Singh and Narender Singh. It also granted bail to Gautam Mootha and Arun Pillai and businessman Sameer Mahendru. The court granted them bail on a ₹50,000 personal bail bond and one surety of the same amount.

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