The Enforcement Directorate has arrested Amit Arora, Director of Buddy Retail Pvt Ltd, in connection with the alleged Delhi Excise Policy scam, sources said on Wednesday.
The agency is expected to produce Arora in a special court here later today and seek his custody to question him in connection with its ongoing probe into Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 money laundering case. Arora's name is mentioned in both the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) cases as accused along with Dinesh Arora, another director of Buddy Retail Pvt Ltd.
Other accused named are Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the then Excise Commissioner Arva Gopi Krishna, Deputy Commissioner Anand Tiwari and Assistant Commissioner Pankaj Bhatnagar. Manoj Rai, a former employee of Pernod Ricard; Amandeep Dhal, director of Brindco Sales; authorised signatories of Mahadev Liquors Sunny Marwah, Arun Ramchandra Pillai and Arjun Pandey are some more accused in the case.
The agency's move comes days after the agency filed its first chargesheet before a court in the national capital in the Delhi excise policy money laundering case naming liquor businessman Sameer Mahandru as one of the accused. The agency said it has so far undertaken 169 search operations in this case, filed after taking cognisance of a CBI FIR which was registered on the recommendation of the Delhi Lieutenant Governor.
The CBI inquiry was recommended on the findings of the Delhi chief secretary's report filed in July showing prima facie violations of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) Act 1991, Transaction of Business Rules (ToBR)-1993, Delhi Excise Act-2009, and Delhi Excise Rules-2010, officials had said.
A total of five people have been arrested by the ED in this case till now, excluding Arora. Mahandru was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on September 27 following his questioning. In October, the ED had raided nearly three dozen locations in Delhi and Punjab following the arrest of Sameer Mahendru, Managing Director of Delhi's Jor Bagh-based liquor distributor Indospirit Group, in the case.
The CBI too filed its first charge sheet in the case early this week. The ED and the CBI have alleged that irregularities were committed while modifying the Excise Policy, undue favours were extended to licence holders, the licence fee was waived or reduced and the L-1 licence was extended without the competent authority's approval.
The beneficiaries diverted "illegal" gains to the accused officials and made false entries in their books of account to evade detection. An alleged, the Excise Department had decided to refund the Earnest Money Deposit of about Rs 30 crore to a successful tenderer against the set rules.
Even though there was no enabling provision, a waiver on tendered licence fee was allowed from December 28, 2021, to January 27, 2022, due to COVID-19.
This allegedly caused a loss of Rs 144.36 crore to the exchequer, which has been instituted on a reference from the Union Home Ministry following a recommendation from Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena.