Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

A private firm allegedly paid Rs 30 lakh as a bribe to obtain a wholesale liquor license from the Delhi government. The firm reportedly made Rs 1,333 crore in sales in just 13 months and a profit of Rs 192.8 crore in only eight months. It is also claimed that Rs 100 crore was transferred to Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as kickbacks. An additional Rs 33 crore was allegedly given to Arun Pillai, the reported frontman of Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader K Kavitha. These allegations form part of the Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation’s cases against the AAP, which claim that the scam resulted in a loss of Rs 2,873 crore to the Delhi government.

Both the AAP and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal have denied all allegations. Kejriwal highlighted that “more than 1,000 raids” failed to find evidence of wrongdoing. The AAP has also labeled the accusations as a “political vendetta” ahead of elections.

K Kavitha has also denied any wrongdoing and contended that the charges against her are based on false statements.

The controversy surrounding the revised liquor policy began in July last year when a Delhi government official flagged “undue benefits” to liquor license winners and a Rs 144 crore rebate during the pandemic. A CBI inquiry authorized by Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena subsequently initiated a larger probe by the ED, leading to the ongoing investigation into the liquor policy scam.

The CBI alleges that the scam originated in June 2021, with a group of businessmen in Hyderabad conspiring to use the Delhi government’s new liquor policy to enrich themselves and their associates. The key figures in this group are Vijay Nair, Abhishek Boinpally, Arun Pillai, and Sameer Mahendru. The CBI claims that Mr. Nair, who was arrested in September last year, met with Mr. Boinpally and Mr. Pillai. The three individuals allegedly agreed to send a sum of Rs 20 to 30 crore as “upfront money” to secure liquor licenses from the Delhi government. The group also purportedly agreed to return the sum to Mr. Boinpally as a “65 per cent partnership” in the name of Arun Pillai in Indospirit Group, a firm owned by Mr. Mahendru. Additionally, half of the 12 per cent profit margin listed in the now-scrapped Delhi government liquor policy was reportedly intended to be split between Mr. Nair and Mr. Boinpally. The agreed sum of Rs 20-30 crore was allegedly sent via hawala channels, with the transfer being coordinated by Dinesh Arora, who has become an approver in the case.

The CBI claims that despite receiving complaints against Indospirits, the AAP government’s Excise Department, headed by Manish Sisodia at the time, approved its license request. The alleged bribe of Rs 30 lakh was reportedly paid for this purpose. The CBI also alleges that Mr. Nair was contacted, via Mr. Arora, to approve the license award.

According to the CBI, the license was granted on November 5, 2021. Until September 2022, Indospirits achieved total sales of Rs 1,333 crore and a net profit of Rs 68 crore.

The ED asserts that Indospirits made a profit of Rs 192.8 crore in just eight months. Of this amount, Rs 100 crore was allegedly paid to the AAP and used in last year’s Goa Assembly election. Rs 33 crore was purportedly paid to Arun Pillai.

The ED also contends that a 32.5 per cent stake in Indospirits was held by Mugunta Srinivasulu Reddy, who is a Lok Sabha MP from Andhra Pradesh’s ruling YSR Congress Party. Mr. Reddy allegedly secured two retail licenses, along with Sarath Reddy (who obtained five licenses) and Telangana lawmaker K Kavitha, forming the “South Cartel,” according to the Enforcement Directorate.

Both the CBI and ED have conducted raids, questioned individuals, and made multiple arrests, including Manish Sisodia, Sanjay Singh, and Vijay Nair. It is expected that the Aam Aadmi Party itself will be implicated in this case, which would be an unprecedented move.

Critics of the ruling BJP have condemned the actions taken against AAP leaders, accusing the BJP of using the CBI and ED to target political opponents.

By admin