The CBI today released lookout circulars against 8 individuals suspected to be involved in the Delhi liquor scam in which Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is one of the 15 accused named in the FIR. This led to speculative posts on social media platforms that claimed the lookout circular applied to Sisodia too, which was incorrect. Officials in the CBI clarified that the agency had issued no lookout circular against the Delhi deputy chief minister or any excise official named in the FIR.
CBI sources said the agency had issued lookout circulars against private individuals whose names figured in the FIR, which include liquor licence holders, vendors, distributors and alleged middlemen.
This follows CBI searches at 31 locations, including Sisodia’s home, two days ago, after which the officials questioned people in connection with its probe into alleged irregularities in the rollout of the Delhi excise policy, which was withdrawn recently.
The lookout circulars have been opened against Vijay Nair, CEO of event management company Only Much Louder; Amandeep Dhal, Director of Brindco Sales Pvt Ltd; Sameer Mahendru, Managing Director of Indospirit Group; Amit Arora, Director of Buddy Retail Pvt Ltd; Dinesh Arora, associated with Radha Industries; Sunny Marwah; authorised signatory of Mahadev Liquors; Arun Ramchandra Pillay, a Karnataka resident accused of moving money; and Arjun Pandey, an alleged middleman — the sources informed the press. CBI sources said the agency had also not opened any lookout circular against Manoj Rai, a former employee of liquor giant Pernod Ricard.
Among those facing CBI lookout circulars are Vijay Nair and Dinesh Arora, who are said to be outside the country. Rai in a public statement said yesterday he was not absconding and would cooperate with the investigations.
The CBI has issued the lookout circulars based on its assessment of the accused’s flight risk, sources said. Yesterday, the agency had questioned some of the accused in the case. Sources said the agency is questioning the other accused and examining the documents and electronic devices recovered during raids at Sisodia’s residence and premises associated with the accused.
In its FIR, the CBI named 15 people, with Sisodia’s name at the top of the list.
The exact status of the CBI lookout notices
The FIR stated: "Praveen Kumar Rai, Director, MHA… 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 (the) framing and implementation of the excise policy. The OM 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 licencees post-tender."
"Apart from the above, reliable sources have revealed that Vijay Nair, former CEO of Only Much Louder, an entertainment and event management company; Manoj Rai, ex-employee of Pernod Ricard; Amandeep Dhal, owner of Brindco Spirits; and Sameer Mahendru, owner of Indospirit, are actively involved in irregularities in framing and implementation of excise policy," the CBI said in its FIR.
"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 Manish Sisodia and are actively involved in managing and diverting the undue pecuniary advantage collected from liquor licencees to (the) accused public servants. 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 (the) accused public servant through Vijay Nair. A person named Arjun Pandey has (sic) once collected (a) huge cash amount of about Rs 2-4 crore from Sameer Mahendru on behalf of Vijay Nair. Source has further informed that Mahadev Liquors, a proprietorship firm, was granted (an) L-1 licence. Sunny Marwah is the authorised signatory of the firm. He is also (a) director in companies/firms being managed by (the) family of Late Ponty Chadha. Source has informed that Sunny Marwah is in close contact with accused public servants and has been regularly giving undue pecuniary advantage to them," the CBI’s FIR alleged.