ED arrests two accused in Chhattisgarh ‘liquor scam’ case

The agency has also seized movable assets worth ₹28 crore in connection with the case

May 12, 2023 01:17 am | Updated 06:19 am IST - NEW DELHI

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested two persons and seized movable assets worth ₹28 crore in connection with the ‘liquor scam’ in Chhattisgarh, said the agency on Thursday.

The arrested accused have been identified as Nitesh Purohit and Trilok Singh Dhillon. The agency had taken them into custody and got the remand of main accused Anwar Dhebar extended, for recording their statements under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. It also conducted searches at various locations linked to hawala operators and entities to trace the proceeds of crime related to the scam that took place in 2019-22.

As alleged by the ED, bribes were collected from distillers for the liquor procured by the Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited (CSMCL) from them; there was off-the-books sale of unaccounted country liquor and the funds so generated were pocketed by the syndicate; and the illegal liquor was sold from State-run shops.

The ED, in its statement, said bribes were taken from distillers to allow cartelisation and fixation of market share. The cartel was exclusively supplied for the State. Besides, commissions were taken from ‘FL-10A’ licence holders, it alleged.

The agency said Mr. Purohit, a close associate of Mr. Dhebar, was involved in the handling and movement of illegally collected cash. Mr. Dhillon was a “prime beneficiary” of the proceeds of crime through money laundering.

“He has willingly and knowingly allowed his bank accounts and firms to be used for layering of large amounts of proceeds of crime. Without any reasonable explanation, he has taken funds through banking channels from the FL-10A license holders falsely showing as unsecured loan, and kept as fixed-deposit. He has also taken kickbacks from major country liquor suppliers in the guise of business transactions and kept the money with him,” said the ED.

During the search operation at his premises, unidentified persons mounted “illegal surveillance” on the ED team using a drone, said the agency.

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