In its probe into the money laundering probe into the now scrapped Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 case, ED has found that all the 34 suspected persons including the accused had changed 140 mobile phones worth ₹1.2 crores with an intention to destroy digital evidence.
In its probe into the money laundering probe into the now scrapped Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has found that all the 34 suspected persons including the accused had changed 140 mobile phones worth ₹1.2 crores with an intention to destroy digital evidence.
The revelation was made by the ED in its remand paper for two accused, Sarath C Reddy and Vinoy Babu, who were arrested on Thursday. The court sent the two accused to seven-day ED custody.
It also said that persons include all the main accused, liquor barons, senior government officials, the Excise Minister of Delhi and other suspects.
“A large number of mobile phones have been changed by the persons involved or suspected to be involved in this case with the intention to destroy digital evidence during the relevant period,” the ED said.
The ED said that all “34 important persons involved or suspected to be involved in the excise scam have changed a total of 140 phones” valued at ₹1.2 crores with an intention to destroy digital evidence during the relevant period.
“The timing of the change of phones indicates that these were mostly changed just after the scam surfaced,” the ED alleged.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case on August 17 to probe the alleged irregularities in the new excise policy case.
Delhi Deputy Chief minister leader, Manish Sisodia, who is also the Excise minister, has been named as accused number one in this case. The CBI also raided the premises of Sisodia on August 19, besides 30 other locations across the country in connection with the case.
The CBI had filed the FIR based on a complaint received from Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena, who flagged irregularities in the framing and implementation of the Delhi Excise Policy.
Besides Sisodia, the CBI has named 14 others, including three public servants – then excise commissioner Arva Gopi Krishna; then deputy excise commissioner Anand Tiwari and assistant commissioner (excise) Pankaj Bhatnagar.
Some private persons, including the AAP communication in-charge and former CEO of Mumbai-based Only Much Louder Vijay Nair; Sameer Mahendru, MD of Indospirits; Manoj Rai, a former employee of Lucknow-based Pernod Ricard; Amit Arora, director of Gurgaon-based Buddy Retail Private Limited; Dinesh Arora, Delhi-based Mahadev Liquors; Sunny Marwah, authorised signatory of Mahadev Liquors; Arun Ramchandra Pillai of Karnataka’s Bangalore and Arjun Pandey of Gurgaon, have also been named in the CBI FIR.
The CBI made two arrests in the case on September 28, including Nair and Hyderabad-based businessman Abhishek Bonipally.
The ED also informed the court that the Delhi government or Excise Department, under the influence of the accused persons, allowed the formation as well as operation of cartelization even when enough information was available on public platforms to indicate cartelization by the majority of the licence holders.
“This was done in exchange for bribes and kickbacks to the Delhi excise officials and the members of the Delhi government. The new Excise Policy increased the profit margin for the L.1 wholesalers to 12 per cent,” it said.
“During the course of the investigation, various persons involved in the Delhi excise scam have revealed that a bribe of ₹100 crore had been given in advance for undue benefits to select business groups by the Delhi government,” it alleged.
The ED further said that it has also been found that kickbacks and bribes were demanded and taken by the Excise officials of Delhi for the opening of retail shops in Delhi.
The ED had earlier arrested Sameer Mahendru, MD of IndoSpirits, on September 28.
The ED also carried out searches at over 169 locations in connection with the case.