Saturday, December 9, 2023

Liquor Policy Scam: Fresh raids by ED at 35 locations

The Enforcement Directorate today launched fresh raids at 35 locations in Delhi, Punjab and Hyderabad, deepening its money laundering probe into alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi liquor policy.

The searches are being conducted at premises linked to liquor companies, distributors and supply chain networks in these states.

The action started early morning with agency teams seen leaving the headquarters for the locations.

Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi, attacked the centre and termed the raids as “dirty politics”.

“More than 500 raids, since 3 months more than 300 CBI/ED officers are working 24 hours – one to find evidence against Manish Sisodia. Can’t find anything. because nothing was done,” Mr Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi.

“Time of so many officers is being wasted for their dirty politics. How will such a country progress?” he added.

The money laundering case in the policy,  which has become the latest flashpoint between the ruling AAP and the BJP, stems from a CBI FIR in which Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and some Delhi government bureaucrats have been named as accused. The CBI is investigating if the policy aided liquor cartels

The BJP alleges huge corruption in the policy that allowed retailers to offer big discounts to attract buyers. The AAP, however, says that its policy was aimed at curbing corruption and accuses the BJP of misusing central agencies for political goals.

Liquor businessman Sameer Mahendru was arrested last week by the probe agency which has conducted several rounds of raids in the case. His arrest came a day after Vijay Nair, AAP’s communications chief and a close aide of Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, by the CBI.

The Delhi Excise Policy, implemented from November 17 last year, was scrapped by Arvind Kejriwal government in July this year following a CBI probe recommended by Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena into its implementation. Mr Saxena alleged that the policy was implemented “with the sole aim” of benefiting private liquor barons by causing huge losses to the exchequer.

The Lieutenant Governor also suspended eleven excise officials in connection with the case.

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