Excise Policy case: Manish Sisodia changed 12 phones, say ED sources

| Updated: 26 November, 2022 8:37 pm IST

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Manish Sisodia destroyed or changed at least 12 mobile phones in a span of one year, said the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The financial investigation agency will lead its probe with this detail and find out whether there was a specific intention behind frequent change of phone. ED is probing allegations of money laundering involved in the now scrapped Excise Policy 2021-22 case.

Top ED sources, related to probe told The New Indian, “Af least 12 phones were destroyed or changed by Sisodia in last few years. And we need to check if this was done intentionally or it was accidental.”

The source said that this fact will be mentioned in the ED’s chargesheet that the agency will be filing before the Court in coming days.

The source further said that the agency has not named Sisodia, who is seen as number two in AAP after its Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. Sources also said that the chargesheet will be filed against five accused.

Earlier, the ED has alleged that during probe it has found that 34 accused or suspects have destroyed or changed at least 140 mobile phones worth Rs 1.2 crore with an intention to destroy digital evidence.

The revelation was made by the ED in its remand paper for two accused, Sarath C Reddy of Aurobindo Pharma and Vinoy Babu of Pernod Ricard, who were arrested by the agency in the money laundering case.

It also alleged that persons include all the main accused, liquor barons, senior government officials, the Excise Minister of Delhi and other suspects.

“The timing of the change of phones indicates that these were mostly changed just after the scam surfaced,” the ED alleged.

The development came a day after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday filed its first chargesheet in connection with the alleged irregularities in the new excise policy case that it registered on August 17 this year.

The CBI has named AAP communication in-charge Vijay Nair, Hyderabad based businessman Abhishek Boinpally, Arun R. Pillai, Mootha Gautham, Sameer Mahendru, MD of Indospiritis, Kuldeep Singh, the then Dy. Commissioner, Excise Narender Singh, the then Assistant Commissioner, Excise Department.

Sisodia, who is also the Excise minister, has been named as accused number one in this case. The CBI also raided the premises of Sisodia on August 19, besides 30 other locations across the country in connection with the case.

The CBI had filed the FIR 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 – then excise commissioner Arva Gopi Krishna; then deputy excise commissioner Anand Tiwari and assistant commissioner (excise) Pankaj Bhatnagar.

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

The CBI made two arrests in the case on September 28, including Nair and Hyderabad-based businessman Abhishek Bonipally.

The ED also informed the court that the Delhi government or Excise Department, under the influence of the accused persons, allowed the formation as well as operation of cartelization even when enough information was available on public platforms to indicate cartelization by the majority of the licence holders.

“This was done in exchange for bribes and kickbacks to the Delhi excise officials and the members of the Delhi government. The new Excise Policy increased the profit margin for the L.1 wholesalers to 12 per cent,” it said.

“During the course of the investigation, various persons involved in the Delhi excise scam have revealed that a bribe of ₹100 crore had been given in advance for undue benefits to select business groups by the Delhi government,” it alleged.

The ED further said that it has also been found that kickbacks and bribes were demanded and taken by the Excise officials of Delhi for the opening of retail shops in Delhi.

The ED had earlier arrested Sameer Mahendru, MD of IndoSpirits, on September 28.

The ED also carried out searches at over 169 locations in connection with the case.

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