The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday [May 12, 2023] arrested Arun Pati Tripathi, Special Secretary at the Department of Excise and the managing director (MD) of Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited (CSMCL) in connection with the alleged ₹2,000-crore liquor scam in the State.
Mr. Tripathi, an Indian Telecommunication Service or ITS officer, was produced before a court in Raipur in the evening. While the agency had asked for a 10-day remand for Mr. Tripathi, the court ordered police detention of three days, i.e. up to May 15.
He is the fourth person and the first government official arrested in connection with the alleged scam that was run by a “syndicate comprising high-level State government officials, private persons and political executives of the State government”, according to the ED.
The ED had first arrested Anwar Dhebar, the elder brother of Raipur Mayor Aijaz Dhebar, a leader of the ruling Congress in the State, on May 6. This was followed by the arrest of Nitesh Purohit, a hotel trader, and Trilok Singh Dhillion, a liquor businessman, in the past couple of days.
After the arrest of Mr. Dhebar, the alleged kingpin of the said racket, the agency had told a court that the appointment of Mr. Tripathi as the managing director of CSMCL was an action taken in order to completely hijack the administration of the Excise department. The CSMCL centrally procures all the liquor sold in the State where all 800 liquor shops are run by the government.
So far, movable properties worth ₹28 crore suspected to be collected from the scam, have been purportedly seized.
Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Friday said that there was a connivance between the ED, the BJP and distillers who were accused of evading taxes.
Earlier, on Thursday, he had accused the ED of conducting a media trial by issuing press notes [in connection with the alleged scam] and said that the agency would also try to link him to the alleged misappropriation.