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Delhi Excise Policy Case: Court Sends Nair, Bonipally To 5-Day ED Custody

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By: Anand Singh | NEW DELHI
Updated: November 14, 2022 20:08
Vijay Nair
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A Delhi court on Monday sent AAP communication in-charge Vijay Nair and Hyderabad-based businessman Abhishek Bonipally to five days of Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody in connection with the money laundering case involving the now scrapped Excise Policy 2021-22 case.

Nair and Bonipally were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Both the accused were arrested by the ED on Sunday, while they were lodged in Delhi’s high-security Tihar Jail. They were produced in court through video conferencing.

The ED sought 14 days of custody for both accused in the case. The ED counsel informed the court that both of them were arrested on Sunday under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED counsel told the court that both were questioned twice by the financial probe agency in Tihar Jail on November 8 and 13.

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The ED counsel also said that during searches at Nair’s residence on September 6, his statement was also recorded under Section 17 of the PMLA. “Nair was asked for further explanation, and then his statement was recorded under Section 50 in jail on November 8 and 13,” ED counsel said.
The ED counsel also told the court that Bonipally’s statement was recorded on September 17, after he was summoned.

“From the start, his (Abhishek Bonipally’s) responses were evasive, and records were also deciphered,” the ED told the court. The ED also said that Bonipally is involved in one of the biggest cartels in South India.

Appearing for Nair to seek bail in the CBI case, Rebecca John said, “Sameer Mahandru was arrested on September 28, a day after Nair was arrested by the CBI. Both are separate agencies. And Nair has spent more than 35 days in custody,” she told the court.

To this, the ED counsel told the court that they were deciphering the records. “And voluminous records have been collected after searches at 169 locations,” the ED counsel argued.

John also said that Nair filed his bail application on October 27. “They (ED) moved to record the statement on October 29. The court permitted it on October 30. They recorded their statement for two days,” she said, adding that the ED arrested Nair on Sunday. She further argued that after arresting for close to 40th days, ED was treating custody as punitive.

Meanwhile, Bonipally’s counsel informed the court that his client was arrested on October 8. “On September 17, the house and office were searched. And he was interrogated on three separate dates – September 28 and 29, and October 2. ED counsel told the court that the agency called Bonipally for questioning, but the summons was adjourned on his request.

After hearing the arguments, Special CBI Judge MK Nagpal sent both Nair and Bonipally to five days of ED custody. The judge also gave them bail in the CBI case on a surety of ₹2 lakh bail bond.

The ED had registered a case of money laundering on the basis of the CBI FIR. To date, ED has carried out searches at 169 locations and arrested Sameer Mahandru, MD of Indospirits, Sarath C Reddy of Aurobindo Pharma and Vinoy Babu of Pernod Ricard.

The CBI has named Delhi Deputy Chief minister and AAP leader Manish Sisodia as the number one accused, along with his close aide Nair, who is also the former CEO of Mumbai-based entertainment and event management company Only Much Louder, besides 13 private people across Lucknow, Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai and Karnataka, which include liquor firms Brindco and Indospirit.

The CBI in its FIR alleged that close associates of Sisodia were actively involved in “managing and diverting the undue pecuniary advantage” collected from liquor licensees to accused public servants.

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