The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested a Delhi-based businessman Amandeep Dhal, the director of Brindco Sales Pvt Ltd, as part of its money-laundering probe into the Delhi Excise Policy (2021-22) scam after questioning him on Wednesday night.
A Delhi court on Thursday remanded Dhal to five-day ED custody following the requirement to confront him with other case accused to detect the larger conspiracy and the money trail. Dhal, along with a few other accused people who were under the scanner, was allegedly “actively involved in the irregularities in the framing and implementation of the Delhi Excise Policy, 2021-22”, an ED source said. His firm is a distributor of liquor brands and related beverages.
The case revolves around the allegation that the formulation and implementation of the Delhi Excise Policy, 2021-22, had led to a loss of Rs2, 873 crore to the exchequer, agency officials said. The Delhi government scrapped the policy on August 1, 2022.
The ED probe is based on an FIR registered on August 17, 2022, by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that had also named then Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader, Manish Sisodia. The CBI arrested Sisodia on February 26 over his alleged involvement in the case. Sisodia resigned from the Delhi Cabinet after his arrest.
ED had last month undertaken an operation across three cities in the country, including Mumbai, to provisionally attach assets worth Rs76.54 crore belonging to persons and firms under the scanner of its probe that were allegedly the crime’s proceeds. The ED has submitted to a special court two charge-sheets in the case since November 2022 and arrested 10 people, including Dhal.
ED, in its second chargesheet filed in the case, had attached the statement of another accused, who claimed that Dhal allegedly “had a good grasp of the Delhi liquor market and knew all the minute details of the (excise) policy changes”. According to ED, Dhal allegedly explained to them how the market will work and how to use the loopholes introduced in the policy to their advantage.
In its First Information Report, the CBI had alleged that public servants had recommended and taken decisions pertaining to the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 without the approval of competent authority with “an intention to extend undue favours to the licensees post tender”. It was also alleged that the Delhi government’s policy to grant licences to liquor traders was influenced in favour of certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge strongly refuted by Delhi’s ruling AAP party.
A few “L-1 licence holders had (allegedly) issued credit notes to retail vendors with an ab-initio intention to divert the funds as undue pecuniary advantage to public servants and that in furtherance of this, they showed false entries in their books of accounts to keep their record straight”, the ED official said. A few persons under the scanner in the case were also accused of involvement in managing and diverting the undue pecuniary advantage collected from liquor licencees to a few public servants, the CBI had alleged.
The excise policy came under the scanner of investigative agencies after the Delhi Lieutenant Governor (LG) recommended a CBI probe into alleged irregularities related to its implementation. The LG had also suspended 11 excise officials.
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