Hours after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday was reported to have registered a money laundering case against Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and several others to probe charges of alleged irregularities in Delhi excise policy, top officials denied the move.
ANI news agency clarified stating the report was published after Additional Director Enforcement Directorate Sonia Narang confirmed on record about registering a money laundering case against Sisodia.
UPDATE: Enforcement Directorate top official now denies ED case against Manish Sisodia. The earlier report was flashed after Additional Director Enforcement Directorate Sonia Narang confirmed to ANI on record about opening up of money laundering case against Manish Sisodia. https://t.co/eT7JzbMunf— ANI (@ANI) August 23, 2022
A case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was registered after the First Information Report (FIR) registered by the CBI and evidence revealed proceeds of crime generated through tweaking the Excise Policy, the report said.
AAP MP Sanjay Singh termed the change in stance as “humiliating" and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to apologise to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal admitting he made a fake case against Manish Sisodia. “This is just getting humiliating. Modi ji, here’s a suggestion, there is still time to apologize to Arvind Kejriwal admitting that you made a mistake by making a fake case against Manish Sisodia," he said in a tweet in Hindi.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is among the 15 individuals and entities named in the FIR registered by the CBI in connection with alleged irregularities in the implementation of the Delhi government’s Excise Policy 2021-22.
The FIR alleged Sisodia’s “close associates" — Amit Arora, director of Buddy Retail Pvt. Limited in Gurugram, Dinesh Arora and Arjun Pandey — were “actively involved in managing and diverting the undue pecuniary advantage collected from liquor licensees" to the accused public servants.
Last week, the CBI carried out searches at 31 places including Sisodia’s residence and the premises of some bureaucrats, including Excise Commissioner A Gopi Krishna and two other Excise Department officials, and businessmen.
The CBI raids took place a month after Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a probe by the agency into the alleged violations of rules and procedural lapses in the implementation of the policy that came into effect from November 17 last year.
Following the searches, the Centre suspended senior IAS officer A Gopi Krishna and Anand Kumar Tiwari, a DANICS officer, in connection with the Delhi liquor policy case. While Krishna was the excise commissioner in the Delhi government, Anand Kumar was the deputy excise commissioner. Both the officials were named in the FIR filed by the CBI in the ongoing probe.
Sisodia has claimed the cases against him were false. “I said I know the truth of the CBI and ED cases against me, because these are all false cases. I am an honest man. In fact, I am with the Arvind Kejriwal team because I am a “kattar imandar" (staunchly honest) person. These fake cases are weak, and you can’t threaten me with these," he said at a press conference in Ahmedabad during his two-day visit to Gujarat.
The Deputy Chief Minister also made sensational claims stating that he was “offered the CM’s post" by the BJP and closure of all cases if he quit the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and joined the saffron outfit. Sisodia stated that he was surprised when someone came to him with a message that he has two offers from the BJP. “The messenger said one was that all big cases registered against you by CBI-ED will be taken back. The other offer was that I break the party and they will make you chief minister," the AAP leader claimed.
“I gave a clear political answer to them, saying Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is my political guru and I have learnt politics from him. I have not come into politics to be CM or PM," Sisodia said.
After Sisodia’s sensational claims, Kejriwal said this means the CBI-ED raids were attempts to topple his government. In response to Sisodia’s tweet, Kejriwal said: “It means that the CBI and ED raids have nothing to do with the liquor policy and corruption? These raids were carried out only to topple the AAP government in Delhi? Like they have done in other states." Later, he tweeted: “Operation Lotus fails in Delhi."
In his latest remark, Kejriwal said Sisodia may be arrested in two to three days.
Responding to the ED probe, AAP MP Sanjay Singh said that the move was bound to happen. “This had to happen. He had threatened Manish (Sisodia) that if he does not join BJP, then ED case will also be made and he will also go to jail. Manish ji is ready to go to jail but not ready to bow down," he said in a tweet.
AAP’s Abhinandita Dayal Mathur took a veiled attack against the ED accusing the BJP-lead government of misusing the powers of the federal agency. “Something’s money can’t buy; For everything else there is ED," she said.
The BJP has hit back stating that the claims made by Sisodia are an attempt to deflect the corruption charges against Sisodia. BJP national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said AAP leaders will “play victim cards and several other cards" now to deflect attention from the corruption charges.
Northeast Delhi BJP MP Manoj Tiwari asked the AAP leader to name the person who made these offers from the party. He also tweeted in Hindi to raise questions about these claims: “Manish’s phone was taken by CBI. That is what he said. On whose phone did he receive the message or call? Reveal that person’s name and get his phone submitted to the CBI."
Union minister Anurag Thakur alleged that the AAP has “connections with the liquor mafia" and said Sisodia has failed to respond on the liquor scam in Delhi. He also denied Sisodia’s accusations and said, “The Aam Aadmi Party is a party of liars and whatever Manish Sisodia has said about the BJP is completely false. The BJP did not give him any offer.”
Meanwhile, a Delhi court granted regular bail to AAP minister and Cabinet Minister Satyendar Jain’s wife Poonam Jain concerning a money laundering case. The ED had initiated a money laundering investigation based on a First Information Report (FIR) registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on August 24, 2017, under the sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act against Satyendar Jain and others.
(With inputs from PTI)
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