CBI files first chargesheet in Delhi excise case, names AAP’s Vijay Nair and six others

The Central Bureau of Investigation has filed the first chargesheet in connection with its investigation of alleged corruption in the Delhi government’s now-withdrawn excise policy. The chargesheet does not name Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who is among those booked in the case.

“We have named seven persons—Vijay Nair, former CEO of events company Only Much Louder who had been associated with the Aam Aadmi Party; Hyderabad-based businessman Abhishek Boinpally; managing director of India Ahead News and Andhra Prabha newspaper Mootha Gautam; Sameer Mahendru, managing director of Indospirit Group; Arun Ramchandra Pillai, who owns a Hyderabad-based infrastructure company; and two former excise officers, Kuldeep and Narendra Singh,” a senior official said, adding that Nair and Boinpally had been arrested by the CBI.

“We have mentioned in our chargesheet that our investigation is still going on and we are probing the role of other persons mentioned in the FIR,” the official said. Sisodia, three excise department officials and several vendors and distributors are among the 15 accused booked by the CBI.

The CBI FIR stated, “Praveen Kumar Rai, director, MHA… has conveyed directions of the competent authority for enquiry into the matter of irregularities in framing and implementation of the excise policy of GNCTD of Delhi for the year 2021-22 by Central Bureau of Investigation. He has also forwarded a letter of L-G Vinai Kumar Saxena alleging irregularities in framing and implementation of the excise policy.”

According to the FIR, “Manish Sisodia, Deputy CM; Arava Gopi Krishna, then Commissioner (Excise); Anand Tiwari, then Deputy Commissioner (Excise); and Pankaj Bhatnagar, Assistant Commissioner (Excise) were instrumental in recommending and taking decisions pertaining to excise policy for the year 2021-22 without the approval of competent authority with an intention to extend undue favours to the licensee post tender”.

The FIR also said, citing “reliable sources”, that AAP’s communication in-charge Nair, Manoj Rai, an ex-employee of Pernod Ricard; Brindco Spirits owner Amandeep Dhal; and Indospirit MD Sameer Mahendru were “actively involved in irregularities in framing and implementation of excise policy”.

“Source further revealed that some of the L-1 licence holders are issuing credit notes to retail vendors with an ab initio intention to divert the funds as an undue pecuniary advantage to public servants. In furtherance to this, they are showing false entries in their books of accounts to keep their record straight. Source further revealed that Amit Arora, director of Buddy Retail Pvt Limited, Gurgaon; Dinesh Arora and Arjun Pandey are close associates of Manish Sisodia and are actively involved in managing and diverting the undue pecuniary advantage collected from liquor licensees to accused public servants,” the FIR read.

“Source further revealed that Sameer Mahendru, MD, Indospirit, has transferred an amount of one crore to the account of Radha Industries. Radha Industries is being managed by Dinesh Arora. Source further revealed that Arun Ramchandra Pillai used to collect undue pecuniary advantage from Sameer Mahendru for onward transmission to accused public servant through Vijay Nair,” it added.

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