Delhi excise policy case: The Rouse Avenue Court extended the Enforcement Directorate remand till November 21 (Monday) for two businessmen of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in connection in connection with its ongoing money laundering probe into the Delhi Excise policy 2021-22. Earlier they were sent to the seven days' remand by the court.
The businessmen are Sharath Chandra Reddy and Binoy Babu. They were arrested last week under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act following long questioning with them at the Enforcement Directorate headquarters. Reddy is the head of a Hyderabad-based Aurobindo Pharma company and is engaged in the liquor business. However, Babu is the head of a company named Pernord Ricard. Both the businessmen were held based on their involvement in ED's ongoing investigation in the Delhi Excise Policy money laundering case.
The Special Judge MK Nagpal today (November 17) noted that Enforcement Directorate required their further custody to confront some witnesses, evidence and voluminous documents. Appearing for Sharath Reddy's Senior Advocates Sudhir Nandarjog and Siddharth Luthra opposed the further remand to him. Earlier, while arguing against Sarath Reddy, ED submitted that it is amply evident that, he had actively planned and conspired with various business owners and politicians and indulged in unfair market practices to gain undue advantage in the Delhi Excise Policy, 2021-22.
"Sarath Reddy led a nexus controlling a huge market share by way of cartelization in clear contravention of objectives of Delhi Excise Policy," said the ED. These businessmen were arrested after the ED questioned Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia's personal assistant, Devendra Sharma, followed by raids conducted at five places in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) in the case.ED while seeking their custodial remand said that the huge digital and physical records have been seized during search operations conducted to date by this Directorate under Section 17 of PMLA, 2002.
The same needs to be confronted with the arrested persons. They both need to be interrogated with respect to other associates/entities involved in the Cartelization and Kickbacks to the Public Servants. In October, the ED had raided nearly three dozen locations in Delhi and Punjab following the arrest of Sameer Mahendru, Managing Director of Delhi's Jor Bagh-based liquor distributor Indospirit Group, in the case. Among the accused in the case is Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the then Excise Commissioner Arva Gopi Krishna, Deputy Commissioner Anand Tiwari and Assistant Commissioner Pankaj Bhatnagar.
Other accused are a former employee of Pernod Ricard Manoj Rai, director of Brindco Sales Amandeep Dhal, director of Buddy Retail Amit Arora and Dinesh Arora, authorised signatories of Mahadev Liquors Sunny Marwah, Arun Ramchandra Pillai and Arjun Pandey. The ED and the CBI have alleged that irregularities were committed while modifying the Excise Policy, undue favours were extended to licence holders, the licence fee was waived or reduced and the L-1 licence was extended without the competent authority's approval.
The beneficiaries diverted "illegal" gains to the accused officials and made false entries in their books of account to evade detection.An alleged, the Excise Department had decided to refund the Earnest Money Deposit of about Rs 30 crore to a successful tenderer against the set rules. Even though there was no enabling provision, a waiver on tendered licence fees was allowed from December 28, 2021, to January 27, 2022, due to COVID-19.
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This allegedly caused a loss of Rs 144.36 crore to the exchequer, said the FIR, which has been instituted on a reference from the Union Home Ministry following a recommendation from Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena.
(With agencies inputs)
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