ED conducts searches in Delhi Excise Policy case

ED initiated a money laundering probe based on the FIR registered by CBI on August 17 against Manish Sisodia and others

September 06, 2022 10:36 am | Updated 01:44 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The Enforcement Directorate carried out searches in Delhi, Gurugram, Faridabad, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Mumbai. File

The Enforcement Directorate carried out searches in Delhi, Gurugram, Faridabad, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Mumbai. File | Photo Credit: Twitter/@dir_ed

The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday conducted searches at more than two dozen locations in different States in connection with the alleged irregularities in the formulation and implementation of the earlier Delhi Excise Policy.

The searches are being carried out in Delhi, Gurugram, Faridabad, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Mumbai. The agency has initiated a money laundering probe based on the First Information Report registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation on August 17 against Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and others.

Among the accused public servants are the then Excise Commissioner Arva Gopi Krishna, Deputy Commissioner Anand Tiwari and Assistant Commissioner Pankaj Bhatnagar.

Also Read | How new excise policy turned into a political battleground in Delhi

Other accused include 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.

Although Mr. Sisodia is one of the accused in the case, the ED has not searched his premises so far.

The CBI has alleged that there were irregularities while modifying the Excise Policy; 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 alleged illegal gains were diverted to the public servants concerned by private parties and false entries made in their books of accounts to conceal the money trail.

Also Read | Spirited battle: On AAP and the Delhi excise policy

The Excise Department had decided to refund the Earnest Money Deposit of about ₹30 crore to a successful tenderer against the existing rules. Although there was no enabling provision, waiver on tendered licence fee was allowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic from December 28, 2021, to January 27, 2022. It allegedly caused a loss of ₹144.36 crore to the exchequer, according to the FIR.

Identifying the Buddy Retail director, Mr. Dinesh Arora and Mr. Pandey as close associates of Mr. Sisodia, the CBI has also allegedly that the three were actively involved in managing and diverting the bribes collected from the beneficiary licence holders to the public servants.

Also Read | Delhi excise policy case | CBI issues look-out circular against eight accused persons

As alleged, Mr. Mahendru had transferred about ₹1 crore to the account of one Radha Industries, managed by Mr. Dinesh Arora; Mr. Pillai received money from Mr. Mahendru for further transfer to an accused public servant via Mr. Nair; and that Mr. Pandey had once collected about ₹2-4 crore from Mr. Mahendru on behalf of Mr. Nair.

The authorised signatory of Mahadev Liquors, which had been given a licence, was also a director in the companies/firms managed by the family of late Uttar Pradesh-based liquor baron Ponty Chadha. He was in regular touch with the accused public servants and paid bribes, as alleged.

In July, Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena had recommended a CBI probe into the Excise Policy 2021-22, after which the matter was referred to the CBI by the Union Home Ministry.

Have nothing to hide, did my job ‘honestly’, says Sisodia

Hours after the Enforcement Directorate carried out searches at multiple locations in the Delhi Excise policy money laundering case, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said he has nothing to hide and did his job “honestly”.

If the ED officers come to my place, they will only find maps of some schools, Mr. Sisodia, who is also the Education Minister of Delhi, said.

“I have nothing (to hide). I have done my job honestly. I have constructed schools and (if ED comes) they will get maps of a few more schools,” Mr. Sisodia told reporters on the sidelines of an event. According to officials, around 30 premises in Delhi, Telangana, Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka are being searched and private individuals named in the case are being raided

(With inputs from PTI)

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