EXC: AAP’s Sanjay Singh introduced liquor bizman to Kejriwal, says ED

Singh allegedly met an accused in the Delhi excise policy case and arranged his meeting with CM Kejriwal.

| Updated: 22 December, 2022 2:30 pm IST
Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh

Apart from Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also named AAP MP Sanjay Singh and Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao’s daughter K Kavitha in its chargesheet in the now-scrapped liquor policy case.

Sisodia has been named accused No. 1 by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in its investigation into alleged irregularities in the liquor policy case. ED is probing a money laundering angle.

According to the chargesheet, Kavitha was part of a cartel named ‘South Group’ which paid ₹100 crores in kickbacks to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders in exchange for “undue benefits” under the Delhi excise policy.

However, Sisodia, Singh and Kavitha have not been named as accused by the financial probe agency. It is for the first time that Singh’s name has found mention in any official document related to the money laundering investigation.

Singh’s name was mentioned by Dinesh Arora, an accused in the case, in his statement to the ED. Arora had alleged that he met deputy CM Sisodia through Singh at a party organised at his restaurant ‘Unplugged Courtyard’.

“On request of Singh, he spoke to many restaurant owners and arranged cheques amounting to ₹82 lakhs (handed over to Sisodia) for collection of party funds for upcoming Assembly elections in Delhi,” according to the ED chargesheet.

It further said, “He (Dinesh Arora) also stated Amit Arora, retail licence holder of Sarthak Flex, had told him and Kanwarbir to be partners in JV of Sarthak Flex. Amit asked him for help in shifting the shop from Pitampura to Okhla as the matter was pending with the excise department.”

“Accordingly, he (Arora) raised the issue with Sisodia and on the directions of Singh, the matter got resolved. He stated that he had spoken to Sisodia 5-6 times and also met (Delhi chief minister Arvind) Kejriwal once at his residence with Singh,” the agency said in its chargesheet, citing Arora’s statement.

Indospirits MD Sameer Mahendra along with five companies was made an accused in the ED’s first chargesheet filed before a special judge at Rouse Avenue district court.

The latest chargesheet also reveals relations between Arora and AAP communication in-charge Vijay Nair. In his statement, Arora told the ED that he met and exchanged contact numbers with Nair at ‘Unplugged Courtyard’.

“In April 2021, Nair called him (Arora) to meet at Delhi’s Oberoi Hotel to discuss the policy. Nair invited him to Gauri Apartments (near Claridges Hotel) and also told him to bring his liquor group friends along. Accordingly, Dinesh took Sikander Mann and Viraat Mann to the meeting. Nair introduced him to certain people namely Arjun Pandey, Arun Pillai, Butchi Babu, and Abhishek Boinpally and told him that they are closely associated with big politicians from the south – MP MS Reddy and Kavitha,” the ED said.

According to Arora’s statement, Nair again met with him, Virat Maan, Arun, Abhishek, Butchi Babu, and Arjun in Hyderabad.

“Abhishek told Manns that they were planning to bid for 8-10 zones and if Manns help them they would give 20 per cent space stock in their shops to which Manns agreed,” the ED said, adding that Nair along with Abhishek told him that funds amounting to around ₹20-30 crores were to be taken to Delhi with the help of Abhishek and Lupin.

Pointing out possible hawala transactions, the chargesheet alleged, “Nair told him that south people are going to partner with Mahandru or other L1 with 65 per cent shareholding and also, 6 per cent payment needs to be made to Nair in advance. To carry out monetary transactions from Hyderabad to Delhi, Nair gave him the contact numbers of two persons namely Rajesh Sharma and Sudhir.”

“Dinesh Arora used to get calls from either Abhishek or (his cousin) Lupin Takkallapalli, who would give him a phone number and a currency note or number and the same was communicated to either Sudhir or Rajesh. Once the transaction was completed successfully, either Sudhir or Rajesh would inform Dinesh Arora and the same was communicated by Dinesh Arora to Nair,” the ED alleged.

According to the agency, Arora also collected funds to the tune of ₹1 crore from a hawala trader in Delhi’s Bengali market on instructions of Nair. He was also involved in policy implementation and the liquor business.

“One such example is Indospirits which was a blacklisted company and the file processing of the company was getting delayed by the excise department. With the help of Nair, a licence to Indospirits was granted by the department,” the ED said.

Meanwhile, Mahandru, in his statement to ED, stated that he met Arun and his associates Abhishek Boinpalli (AB), Buchi Babu (BB) together through a Zoom call initiated by Nair.

“Nair had told Mahandru that Arun’s group was keen on investing in (liquor) business in Delhi, that this group had deep pockets, political connections and were friends of Kejriwal. The discussion was primarily on understanding the nitty-gritty of the Delhi liquor business and the opportunity for investment in the new policy. Many such follow-up meetings happened online and in person wherein AP group (AP, BB and AB) showed interest in investing in Indospirit distribution business as a whole (at all India level),” the ED claimed.

“Later, they informed Mahandru that, they wanted to take part in the wholesale liquor business first. Mahandru realized that it is his established business in Delhi and they would just be taking stakes in the business without any significant investment. At this point, Mahandru started resisting the concept of this partnership. He communicated the same to Arun Pillai and the group,” the ED said.

Later Arun told Mahendru that he was representing Kavitha’s interest in his company, the ED alleged.

At this point, Mahendru relented after Nair promised that “Pernod Ricard’s wholesale business would come to him”, it is alleged. Kavitha spoke to Mahendru in September 2021 through iPhone’s video chatting app Facetime, where she “congratulated Sameer for Delhi business” and was “happy that they have partnered up”, the chargesheet revealed.

In 2022, Mahendru met Kavitha at her house in Hyderabad where she told him that he was “like family to her and doing business with Arun was like doing business with Kavitha and that they will take this relationship to a larger scale in multiple states and expand majorly”.

Mahandru, Nair, Bonipally, Sarath Reddy and Benoy Babu were arrested in connection with the case, which is based on the CBI FIR registered on August 17 this year on the basis of a complaint by LG Vinai Saxena.

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