ED charge sheet against AAP’s Vijay Nair, 4 others in excise probe
This is the second charge sheet filed by the agency in the same case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA)
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday filed a charge sheet against five people, including the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) communications in-charge Vijay Nair, and seven companies before a court in Delhi in connection with its money laundering probe into the alleged irregularities in the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22, people familiar with the development said.
The other four named in the charge sheet, filed before the court of special judge MK Nagpal at Rouse Avenue court, are Abhishek Boinpally, a consultant who lobbied for an alleged “South Group”, Aurobindo Pharma’s promoter P Sarath Chandra Reddy, Pernod Ricard’s manager Benoy Babu, and the owner of Buddy Retail Pvt Ltd, Amit Arora.
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This is the second charge sheet filed by the agency in the same case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The federal agency has not named Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia in any of the charge sheets though he was named as one of the accused in the case. Sisodia has denied all charges and he and the AAP have termed the allegations as “political vendetta” amid a bitter tussle with the Union government over the administrative control of Delhi.
In its first charge sheet, filed on November 26 last year, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), in which only businessman Sameer Mahendru and his firms were named, the federal agency claimed that Mahendru had formed a “super cartel” with the alleged South Group to control nine out of 32 retail zones in Delhi’s liquor business.
Read| Accused in Delhi excise policy case formed ‘super cartel’: ED charge sheet
The agency also termed Vijay Nair as the one who “orchestrated the entire scam”, while alleging that he received advance kickbacks worth ₹100 crore from the South Group, allegedly comprising Andhra Pradesh member of Parliament (MP) and YSR Congress leader Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, his son Raghav Magunta, Telangana MLC and Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader Kalvakuntla Kavitha, who is the daughter of Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, and businessman Sarath Reddy, the promoter of Aurobindo Group.
They have all denied the allegations, as have the people named in the second charge sheet.
ED has pegged the loss in the entire alleged scam to be worth ₹2,873 crore.
Sisodia has been named as by both ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the case. However, ED is yet to question him, and officials familiar with the probe said he is likely to be called by the agency for questioning soon.
The Delhi government’s 2021-22 excise policy aimed to revitalise the city’s liquor business. It aimed to replace a sales-volume based regime with a license fee one for traders, and promised swankier stores, free of the infamous metal grilles, ultimately giving customers a better buying experience. The policy also introduced discounts and offers on the purchase of liquor, a first for Delhi.
The plan, however, came to an abrupt end with lieutenant governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommending a CBI probe into alleged irregularities in the regime. This ultimately resulted in the policy being scrapped prematurely and being replaced by the 2020-21 regime, with the AAP alleging that Saxena’s predecessor sabotaged the move with a few last-minute changes that resulted in lower-than-expected revenues.