Mumbai: The enforcement directorate (ED) on Wednesday said it undertook 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 related to the money-laundering aspect of the Delhi Liquor scam.
The case involves 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 provisionally attached assets, which are suspected to be the proceeds of crime, include the Rs1. 77 crore residential property belonging to businessman Vijay Nair in Mumbai’s Parel. Other such assets included those in Delhi, Gurugram, and Hyderabad.
The assets attached include residential property worth Rs35 crore in Jor Bagh belonging to businessman Sameer Mahandru and his wife, a residential premise estimated to be worth Rs. 7.68 crore located in Gurugram owned by businessman Amit Arora, and a land parcel worth Rs2.25 crore at Vattinagulapalle in Hyderabad, belonging to Arun Pillai, a Hyderabad-based businessman.
Other attached assets included three restaurants, Chica, La Roca, and Unplugged Courtyard, worth Rs3.18 crore, owned by Dinesh Arora, who is under the probe’s scanner, 50 vehicles worth Rs10.23 crore owned by Indospirit Group, and bank balance, fixed deposits, financial instruments worth Rs14.39 crore.
“Investigation by ED revealed that acts of corruption and conspiracy in the formulation and implementation of the Delhi Excise Policy, 2021-22, led to a loss of at least Rs2,873 crore to the government exchequer,” said an ED official.
“The proceeds of crime generated by the activities relating to the scheduled offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 2018, and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code, to the tune of Rs76.54 crore has been traced so far and have been attached,” the official said.
Six accused persons including Mr Nair, Mr Mahandru, Mr Arora, businessmen Mr Sarath Reddy, Mr Benoy Babu, and Mr Abhishek Boinpally are in judicial custody. The ED has submitted to a special court two charge-sheets in the case since in November 2022.
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 of. The LG had also suspended 11 excise officials.
The alleged scam has had Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia under the scanner as well. The ED, however, did not name Mr. Sisodia as an accused in the case and told the court earlier this month that further investigation is underway.
The ED’s probe is based on an FIR registered on August 17, 2022, by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that had also named Sisodia. Last November, the CBI filed its first charge sheet in the case against seven persons. Sisodia, however, did not figure in the charge sheet.
In its FIR, 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 Aam Aadmi Party.
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