Delhi excise policy case: 34 suspects changed 140 mobile phones to destroy evidence, says ED

In its investigation into the money laundering probe into the now discontinued Delhi Excise Policy case 2021-22, the Law Enforcement Directorate (DE) found that the 34 suspects , including the accused, had changed 140 mobile phones worth ₹1.2 crore with the intention of destroying the digital evidence.

The revelation was made by the ED in its remand document for two defendants, Sarath C Reddy and Vinoy Babu, who were arrested on Thursday. The court sent the two defendants to seven days of detention in the emergency room.

He also said the people included all the main defendants, liquor barons, senior officials, Delhi’s excise minister and other suspects.

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“A large number of cell phones were changed by those involved or suspected of being involved in this case with the intent to destroy digital evidence during the relevant time period,” the ED said.

The ED said the “34 important people involved or suspected of being involved in the excise scam changed a total of 140 phones” worth ₹1.2 crore with the intention of destroying digital evidence during the relevant period.

“The timing of the phone change indicates that these were mostly changed right after the scam emerged,” the ED alleged.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a case on August 17 to investigate alleged irregularities in the new excise policy case.

Delhi’s chief deputy minister, Manish Sisodia, who is also the excise minister, has been named as the number one defendant in the case. The CBI also raided the premises of Sisodia on August 19, along with 30 other sites across the country in connection with the case.

The CBI had filed the FIR based on a complaint received from the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Vinai Kumar Saxena, who had pointed out irregularities in the development and implementation of Delhi’s excise policy.

Besides Sisodia, the CBI appointed 14 others, including three officials – then excise commissioner Arva Gopi Krishna; then Deputy Commissioner of Excise Anand Tiwari and Deputy Commissioner (Excise) Pankaj Bhatnagar.

Some private individuals, including Mumbai-based AAP Communications Manager and former CEO of Only Much Louder Vijay Nair; Sameer Mahendru, MD of Indospirits; Manoj Rai, a former Pernod Ricard employee based in Lucknow; Amit Arora, Director of Buddy Retail Private Limited, based in Gurgaon; Dinesh Arora, Delhi-based Mahadev Liquors; Sunny Marwah, signing officer of Mahadev Liquors; Arun Ramchandra Pillai from Bangalore in Karnataka and Arjun Pandey from Gurgaon have also been named in the CBI FIR.

The CBI made two arrests in the case on September 28, including businessman Abhishek Bonipally, based in Nair and Hyderabad.

The ED also informed the court that the Delhi government or the excise department under the influence of the defendants allowed the formation as well as the operation of the cartelization even when enough information was available on the public platforms to indicate cartelization by the majority of licensees. .

“This was done in return for kickbacks and bribes to Delhi excise officials and members of the Delhi government. The new excise policy increased the profit margin of L.1 wholesalers to 12%,” he said.

“During the investigation, various people involved in the Delhi excise scam revealed that a bribe of ₹100 crore was paid in advance for improper benefits to certain groups of ‘undertaken by the Delhi government,’ he alleged.

The ED further stated that it was also found that bribes and kickbacks were demanded and accepted by Delhi excise officials for opening retail stores in Delhi.

The ED had previously arrested Sameer Mahendru, MD of IndoSpirits, on September 28.

The ED also searched more than 169 locations in connection with the case.

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