Delhi excise policy: ED arrests two private company executives; over 160 search ops in case so far
Delhi excise policy case: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday arrested two private company executives in a case related to alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy in which Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is accused.
The two arrested persons were Benoy Babu, general manager of liquor company Pernod Ricard, and P Sarath Chandra Reddy, whole-time director and promoter of Aurobindo Pharma, and they were taken into custody.
The agency later produced them before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Delhi and it sent them to seven days of ED custody, officials said.
Aurobindo Pharma Limited informed the stock exchange that Reddy is "not in any way connected with the operations of" the company or its subsidiaries".
Besides these two, the ED arrested Sameer Mahandru, managing director of liquor manufacturing company Indospirit, in September.
Officials claimed the two were "evasive" during the questioning.
The two were allegedly involved in the formulation of the Delhi excise policy along with government officials and also had a role in the "cartelisation" of the entire network, the officials said.
The ED claimed to have recovered a draft of the policy from one of the executives when the premises were searched earlier.
The agency also claimed to have found that investments worth Rs 200 crore in the retail liquor business were made by an entity in violation of the policy directives.
It also informed the court during remand proceedings that the policy was "leaked" to certain liquor manufacturers much before its release and a probe found that three dozen VIPs, including Deputy Chief Minister Sisodia, allegedly changed as many as 140 mobile phones with the intention to destroy digital evidence.
It said several people questioned by it during the course of investigation "have revealed that bribe to the time of Rs 100 crore had been given in advance for undue benefits to select business groups to operate in the Delhi excise policy 2021-22."
Delhi excise policy case: Searches and arrests made so far
The ED has undertaken as many as 169 search operations in this case so far.
The agency early this month raided the premises of a PA of Sisodia and later questioned him at its office in Delhi.
The money laundering case stems from a CBI FIR that had named Sisodia as an accused among others.
The CBI had raided the premises of the deputy chief minister and some Delhi government bureaucrats after filing the case.
The excise scheme came under the scanner after the Delhi lieutenant governor recommended a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in the implementation of the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22. The LG had also suspended 11 excise officials.
The ED has questioned AAP MLA Durgesh Pathak and minister Satyendar Jain, currently in jail in another money laundering case, in this case.
The CBI has also arrested two people in this case -- Vijay Nair, former CEO of an entertainment business company, and liquor businessman Abhishek Boinpally.
The CBI inquiry was recommended on the findings of the Delhi chief secretary's report filed in July showing prima facie violations of the GNCTD Act 1991, Transaction of Business Rules (ToBR)-1993, Delhi Excise Act-2009, and Delhi Excise Rules-2010, officials had said.
(With inputs from PTI)
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