The Enforcement Directorate on Friday conducted searches at 40 locations in different States in connection with the alleged irregularities in the Delhi Excise Policy case.
The premises linked to the beneficiaries, distributors and their associates in and around Delhi and Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were covered. The officials searched some places purportedly related to YSRCP MP M. Srinivasulu Reddy, including one at Nellore in Andhra Pradesh. The agency also recorded the statement of Delhi Minister Satyendar Jain, who has been lodged in the Tihar Jail in another case.
On September 6, the ED had searched over two dozen locations in Delhi, Gurugram, Faridabad, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Mumbai. The premises of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who is an accused in the case, has not been covered by the agency so far. The money laundering probe is based on a First Information Report (FIR) registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation on August 17 against Mr. Sisodia and others.
Among the accused public servants named in the FIR are the then Excise Commissioner Arva Gopi Krishna, Deputy Commissioner Anand Tiwari and Assistant Commissioner Pankaj Bhatnagar.
The others are Vijay Nair, former chief executive officer of Mumbai-based entertainment and event management company named Only Much Louder; Manoj Rai, former employee of Pernod Ricard; Amandeep Dhal, director of Brindco Sales; Sameer Mahendru, managing director of Indospirit Group; Buddy Retail and its director Amit Arora, Dinesh Arora, Mahadev Liquors, its authorised signatory Sunny Marwah, Arun Ramchandra Pillai and Arjun Pandey.
The agencies have alleged that undue favours were extended to licence holders; licence fee was waived or reduced; and L-1 licence was extended without the competent authority’s approval. The illegal gains were diverted to the accused public servants and false entries made by the private parties concerned in their books of accounts to hide the money trail.
According to the FIR, the Excise Department had decided to refund the Earnest Money Deposit of about ₹30 crore to a successful tenderer against the rules. Despite the fact that there was no enabling provision, waiver on tendered licence fee was given in view of the COVID-19 pandemic from December 28, 2021, to January 27, 2022. The alleged irregularity caused a loss of ₹144.36 crore to the exchequer.
Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena had recommended a CBI probe into the Excise Policy 2021-22 in July. After registering the FIR, the CBI had earlier conducted searches on August 19, including the premises of Mr. Sisodia.