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Excise policy 'scam' | Enforcement Directorate attaches ₹76.54 crore worth assets under PMLA

An order for the provisional attachment of the assets has been issued under the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act.

January 25, 2023 12:02 pm | Updated 12:27 pm IST - New Delhi

Representational image only.

Representational image only. | Photo Credit: Twitter@dir_ed

The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday, January 25, 2023, has attached assets worth ₹76.54 crore of several persons and entities in connection with the money laundering probe into the Delhi excise policy case allegedly involving Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and others.

According to the agency, the attachment order includes properties worth ₹35 crore of accused Sameer Mahandru and his wife Geetika in Delhi’s Jor Bagh; a Gurugram residential premises worth ₹7.68 crore of Amit Arora; and a ₹1.77-crore Mumbai property of Vijay Nair, who was the communication in-charge of the Aam Aadmi Party.

Three restaurants of Dinesh Arora; a land parcel worth ₹2.25 crore, owned by Arun Pillai in Vattinagulapalle, Hyderabad; 50 vehicles worth ₹10.23 Crore owned by Mr. Mahendru’s Indospirit Group; and bank balance/fixed deposits/financial instruments valued ₹14.39 crore have also been attached.

The ED has alleged that the erstwhile excise policy (2021-22), formulated in conspiracy with Mr. Nair and others, led to the loss of at least ₹2,873 crore to the exchequer.

The ED has so far arrested Mr. Nair, Mr. Mahandru, Mr. Amit Arora, P. Sarath Chandra Reddy, Benoy Babu and Abhishek Boinpally. They are currently in judicial custody. It has also filed two chargesheets in the case.

The money laundering probe is based on the case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation on August 17, 2022, against Mr. Sisodia and others. It alleges that the Expert Committee’s recommendations for the excise policy were modified to “generate illegal funds”.

“The policy was formulated with deliberate loopholes, inbuilt mechanism to facilitate illegal activities and is marred with inconsistencies. It promoted cartel formations through back door, awarded exorbitant wholesale (12%) and huge retail profit margin of 185% and incentivised other illegal activities. The 12% profit margin to wholesalers was devised to extract a portion of it (about 6%) as a kickback to AAP leaders,” it earlier said, alleging that the kickbacks were paid in advance.

The ED alleged that Mr. Nair, on behalf of the party leaders, received Rs.100 crore from the “South Group” whose prominent persons were “Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, Raghav Magunta, Sarath Reddy and K. Kavitha”.

The group’s partners were allegedly given 65% stakes in the wholesale licensee Indo Spirits in conspiracy with Mr. Mahandru, so that they could recover the paid money, the agency said in one of chargesheets.

It also alleged that at least 36 accused persons/suspects destroyed or used 170 phones to evade detection. “The magnitude of the destruction is such that most accused, liquor barons, senior government officials, Excise Minister of Delhi and other suspects have changed their phones multiple times...,” the agency said.

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