ED names Kavitha in 7th charge sheet in excise case, says next one in a week | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

ED names Kavitha in 7th charge sheet in excise case, says next one in a week

ByNeeraj Chauhan
May 10, 2024 06:31 PM IST

K Kavitha was arrested on March 16 from her residence in Hyderabad, five days before ED also arrested Arvind Kejriwal in the same case

NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday filed a fresh charge sheet in the Delhi excise policy probe, naming K Kavitha, Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader and daughter of former Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, as an accused among other alleged associates, people familiar with the development said.

BRS leader K Kavitha was arrested in March in the alleged Delhi liquor policy case and is in judicial custody (PTI FILE)
BRS leader K Kavitha was arrested in March in the alleged Delhi liquor policy case and is in judicial custody (PTI FILE)

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who was granted interim bail on Friday, has not been named in the latest charge sheet – seventh in the case so far by ED. Officials said a separate supplementary , charge sheet will be filed against Kejriwal by next week.

Kavitha was arrested on March 16 from her residence in Hyderabad. Five days later, on March 21, the financial crimes probe agency also arrested Kejriwal alleging that a conspiracy was hatched by him, Kavitha and former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia to benefit a South Group of businessmen and politicians in the Delhi excise policy 2021-22. She is currently lodged in Tihar jail.

Also Read: SC releases Arvind Kejriwal on interim bail, tells him to surrender on June 2

The federal agency alleges that Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders received around 100 crore in bribes from the South Group and that chief minister Arvind Kejriwal used his position to utilise proceeds of crime worth about 45 crore in AAP’s election campaign in Goa in 2022.

The charge sheet against Kavitha, officials stressed, has been filed under sections 45 and 44 (1) of prevention of money laundering act or PMLA before a special court in Delhi within the stipulated period of 60 days from her arrest.

The court will hear arguments on cognisance of charge sheet on May 13.

Apart from her, others named in the charge sheet include Chanpreet Singh, who allegedly managed AAP’s funds sourced from kickbacks in excise policy during the Goa assembly elections 2022; Damodar Prasad Sharma and Prince Kumar (employees in a firm allegedly used for routing of funds) and Arvind Kumar Singh (creative head of India Ahead news channel). These four individuals were earlier named in a charge sheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is conducting a parallel corruption probe in the excise policy in July 2023.

ED has so far arrested 18 accused persons including AAP leaders Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Sanjay Singh and BRS leader K Kavitha; filed seven charge sheets against 34 individuals and entities; and submitted thousands of documents as evidence in the court in the excise policy probe.

An ED officer said” “K Kavitha orchestrated a deal with CM, Delhi – Arvind Kejriwal and then deputy CM and the excise minister, Manish Sisodia, wherein she, along with other members of the South Group, paid them kickbacks through a string of intermediaries and middlemen. In exchange for kickbacks paid to the leaders of AAP, Kavitha had access to the policy formulation and was offered provisions to ensure a favorable position to her”.

According to ED, there was a conspiracy by “some of the big political leaders of various political parties” to use “proxies, dummies and web of exchanges/transactions to conceal their involvement”.

The South Group comprising of businessman Sarath Reddy, politician Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy and K Kavitha got nine zones out of 32 in Delhi under new excise policy. The policy was brought out with an extraordinarily high 12% profit margin for wholesalers and almost 185% profit margin for the retailers. As a scheme, 6% out of the 12% margin was to be collected back from the wholesalers as kickback to the leaders of AAP, ED has alleged.

“The South Group, however, paid this kickback of 100 crore in in advance to Vijay Nair (AAP’s then communications in-charge), who was managing this scheme and conspiracy on behalf of the leaders of the AAP”, according to a second officer. In lieu of this advance kickback payment, Nair ensured the South Group secured stakes in wholesale businesses as they had no hold/base in Delhi liquor business.

The Delhi government’s 2021-22 excise policy aimed to revitalise the city’s flagging 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 Delhi’s lieutenant governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommending a 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 AAP alleging that Saxena’s predecessor sabotaged the move with a few last-minute changes that resulted in lower-than-expected revenues.

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