ED to seek custody of CBI approver Dinesh Arora in Delhi Excise scam

The ED which is tracing the laundering route of the kickback money generated in the scam had arrested Arora on Thursday evening.
The Directorate of Enforcement building. (File | PTI)
The Directorate of Enforcement building. (File | PTI)

NEW DELHI: Dinesh Arora, a key accused turned approver in the Delhi Excise Policy scam 2021-22 being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation for allegations of corruption, will be produced before a Special court at Delhi's Rouse Avenue court on Friday afternoon from where the agency would seek his custody.

The ED which is tracing the laundering route of the kickback money generated in the scam had arrested Arora on Thursday evening. The agency plans to interrogate him further in custody for further investigation and corroboration of facts and evidence collected during the probe so far.

Arora was earlier questioned by the ED which is tracking the tail of the kickback money that originated out of the ‘tweaked’ policy that favoured ‘liquor lobbies’ - particularly the South Group, and was allegedly laundered by various middlemen to bribe government officials and politicians of Aam Aadmi Party. The policy was drafted and implemented by former Delhi Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who has been charged by both CBI and ED and is currently in Tihar Jail.

Dinesh Arora a known name in Delhi’s F&B circuits and alleged to be a close aide of Sisodia was closely associated with the AAP and was actively involved in "managing" and "diverting" the illegal kickbacks from liquor traders – referred to as South Group traders, who benefitted from the Delhi Excise policy that was allegedly tweaked in their favour. While the traders got windfall gains Delhi government lost huge revenues to allegedly to the tune of Rs 2873 crores due to the alleged tweaks in the policy.

The ED in January had attached Arora’s assets, valued at Rs 3.18 crore, including his popular restaurants like ‘Chica’, ‘La Roca’, ‘Unplugged Courtyard', all in Delhi NCR, on allegations of investments made from the kickbacks he received from the Delhi Excise scam.

The ED case is a fallout of the case registered by CBI in the Delhi Excise scam in August last year against Sisodia and 14 others under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 477A (falsification of records), and section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The FIR was lodged after Delhi Lt Governor VK Saxena recommended a CBI probe into the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22. Sisodia, was in charge of the excise department at the relevant period when the policy was formulated and implemented.

It was alleged that the policy, which was brought into effect in November 2021, was influenced at the formulation stage to benefit certain businessmen, liquor distributors and traders. Following the registration of the case the Delhi government had withdrawn the policy with effect from 31 July 2022.

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