Liquor trader Sameer Mahendru paid Rs 5 crore to associates of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has claimed in its first information report (FIR) on alleged corruption in the framing and implementation of the excise policy 2021-22.
“Sameer Mahendru, MD, lndospirits, has transferred an amount of Rs 1 crore to account no. 10220210004647 of Radha Industries maintained with UCO Bank, Rajendra Place, New Delhi. Radha Industries is being managed by Dinesh Arora,” stated the CBI. Arora is said to be an associate of Sisodia.
As per the FIR, accused Arun Ramchandra Pillai allegedly used to collect “undue pecuniary advantage from Mahendru for onward transmission to accused public servant through Vijay Nair.” The CBI said that Sisodia’s associate Arjun Pandey reportedly collected about Rs 2 crore-Rs 4 crore in cash from Mahendru on behalf of accused Vijay Nair, the former CEO of Only Much Louder, an entertainment and event management company.
The CBI has recovered incriminating documents/articles, digital records etc. after its searches at 31 locations across Delhi, including Sisodia’s official residence, Gurugram, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Bengaluru on Friday.
THE KEY PLAYERS
The FIR filed on August 17 has named 15 people under the Indian Penal Code sections related to criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. “It was alleged that irregularities were committed, including in modifications in excise policy, extending undue favours to the licencees, waiver/reduction in licence fee, extension of L-1 license without approval etc ,” the CBI in a statement said.
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The FIR has named the deputy CM as accused number 1 and said that middlemen facilitated the illegal gratifications. “Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister; Arva 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 the excise policy for 2021-22 without the approval of the competent authority with an intention to extend undue favours to the licencees post tender,” the CBI FIR said .
ROLE OF THE ACCUSED
Irregularities in framing and implementation of excise policy: The CBI FIR alleged that Nair, in conspiracy with the co-accused, framed and implemented the excise policy and there were irregularities in it. “Nair, Manoj Rai, ex-employee of Pernod Ricard; Amandeep Dhal, owner of Brindco Spirits; and Mahendru are actively involved in irregularities in framing and implementation of excise policy of GNCTD of Delhi for the year 2021-22,” the FIR said.
Funds diverted to public servants: “L-1 Licence holders are issuing credit notes to retail vendors to divert the funds as undue pecuniary advantage to public servants,” the CBI said, citing sources. It added that false entries were made to books of accounts to keep the record straight.
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Money trail: Dinesh Arora, an entrepreneur with a pub in Delhi’s Aerocity, has been named as an accused by the CBI. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress leaders put out his pictures with AAP leaders to argue that he was a close associate of the ruling party of Delhi. The CBI also claimed that the suspects are close associates of Manish Sisodia.
A source further revealed that Amit Arora, director of Buddy Retail, is a close associate of Sisodia. “Amit Arora and Pandey were actively involved in managing and diverting the undue pecuniary advantage collected from liquor licensees to accused public servants.”
सीबीआई आई है. उनका स्वागत है. हम कट्टर ईमानदार हैं . लाखों बच्चों का भविष्य बना रहे हैं.
बहुत ही दुर्भाग्यपूर्ण है कि हमारे देश में जो अच्छा काम करता है उसे इसी तरह परेशान किया जाता है. इसीलिए हमारा देश अभी तक नम्बर-1 नहीं बन पाया.
— Manish Sisodia (@msisodia) August 19, 2022
PONTY CHADHA CONNECTION: Deceased liquor baron Ponty Chadha has also figured in the CBI’s FIR. The agency said Sunny Marwah, who manages firms of Chadha, was granted L-1 License. “A 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 said.