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PoliticsIndiaAAP associates arrested on consecutive days for Delhi liquor scam

AAP associates arrested on consecutive days for Delhi liquor scam

"CBI arrests Vijay Nair, who handles 'communications' for #AAP, and ED arrests liquor baron Sameer Mahendru, who is allegedly close to @msisodia," senior journalist Kanchan Gupta tweeted this morning. Vijay Nair, former CEO of event management company Only Much Louder, and an accused in the Delhi Excise Policy case, was arrested on September 27 by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the Delhi liquor policy scam, reported news agency ANI quoting sources.

He was called to CBI Headquarters and was arrested after questioning. He was arrested for conspiracy, 'cartelisation' and 'chosen licensing', ANI reported.

Nair is reportedly an aide of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, whose name features on the top of the list of the accused in the case of the capital's liquor policy scam.

The CBI had filed a case against alleged corruption in the 2021-22 excise policy. The excise policy was subsequently withdrawn by the AAP government.

Earlier this month, CBI Court Judge Geetanjali Goel has also passed an order for Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials to interrogate jailed Delhi Minister Satyendar Jain in the ongoing liquor scam case. Jain is currently in Delhi's Tihar in connection with a money-laundering case, which is also being probed by the ED.

Last month, the probe agency had filed a case against Sisodia and others for alleged irregularities in framing and implementation of the excise policy of Delhi. The policy, implemented from November 17, 2021, was withdrawn after Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena recommended a CBI probe in July.

The ED initiated a probe in the case, under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), after taking cognisance of a CBI FIR that has named Sisodia and 14 others in the excise case.

The central probe agency alleged that irregularities were committed including modifications in the excise policy, extending undue favours to the licencees, or reduction in licence fee, and extension of L-1 licence without approval.

Today, the ED arrested Sameer Mahendru, the Managing Director of Indospirit Group, in connection with a money laundering probe it has launched in connection with the Delhi government’s now scrapped liquor policy, officials confirmed.

The CBI alleges that Mahendru was actively involved in irregularities in the framing and implementation of excise policy.

Mahendru’s arrest comes a day after Vijay Nair, the former CEO of events company Only Much Louder, who had been associated with the Aam Aadmi Party, was arrested in connection with alleged irregularities in the Delhi excise policy case.

The CBI FIR says a person named Arjun Pandey collected an amount of about Rs 2 to 4 crore from Mahendru on behalf of Vijay Nair.

On 7 September, the ED had conducted searches at 35 locations across the country in connection with their probe and it had also searched the Jor Bagh residence of Mahendru, who is an accused in the case.

The ED case, which was registered earlier this month, is based on a CBI FIR filed in August. The CBI had booked Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, three excise department officials, and several vendors and distributors among the 15 accused it had arraigned in its FIR.

The CBI FIR had stated: “Praveen Kumar Rai, Director, … has conveyed directions of the competent authority for enquiry into the matter of irregularities in framing and implementation of the excise policy of GNCTD of Delhi for the year 2021-22 by Central Bureau of Investigation. He has also forwarded a letter of L-G Vinai Kumar Saxena alleging irregularities in framing and implementation of the excise policy.”

Only Much Louder "is enclosed herewith, which discloses that Manish Sisodia, Deputy CM; Arava Gopi Krishna, then Commissioner (Excise); Anand Tiwari, then Deputy Commissioner (Excise); and Pankaj Bhatnagar, Assistant Commissioner (Excise) were instrumental in recommending and taking decisions pertaining to excise policy for the year 2021-22 without the approval of competent authority with an intention to extend undue favours to the licensee post tender,” it added.

The CBI also said in its FIR citing ‘reliable sources’ who it said have revealed that Vijay Nair, Manoj Rai, an ex-employee of Pernod Ricard, the owner of Brindco Spirits Amandeep Dhal, and Mahendru are “actively involved in irregularities in framing and implementation of excise policy”.

The “source further revealed that some of the L-1 licence holders are issuing credit notes to retail vendors with an ab-initio intention to divert the funds as an undue pecuniary advantage to public servants. In furtherance to this, they are showing false entries in their books of accounts to keep their record straight. Source further revealed that Amit Arora, director of Buddy Retail Pvt Limited, Gurgaon; Dinesh Arora and Arjun Pandey are close associates of and are actively involved in managing and diverting the undue pecuniary advantage collected from liquor licensees to accused public servants,” it said.

The "source further revealed that Sameer Mahendru, MD, Indospirit, has transferred an amount of one crore to the account of Radha Industries. Radha Industries is being managed by Dinesh Arora. Source further revealed that Arun Ramchandra Pillai used to collect undue pecuniary advantage from Sameer Mahendru for onward transmission to accused public servant through Vijay Nair.”

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