Delhi liquor scam 2.0? CBI sniffs Rs 1.5K crore discount swindle

CBI is looking into a new discount swindle in liquor purchase by the Delhi govt. They are probing if part of this discount was routed to Punjab, and they received a part in cash in Delhi.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (EPS)
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (EPS)

NEW DELHI:  The CBI is looking into a new discount swindle worth around Rs 1,500 crore in liquor purchase by the Delhi government.

In the course of its probe into the alleged liquor scam in Delhi, the agency reportedly found that after the controversial policy was rolled back and the entire trade was taken over by the government, the discounts that were earlier offered by manufacturers and wholesalers, stopped as they are not reflected in the government’s books.

However, liquor manufacturers and wholesalers continued to offer these discounts to other purchasers such as hotels, clubs and restaurants in Delhi.

Sources said the CBI smelt a rat in the discontinuation of the discount and is looking into the possibility of the AAP leadership routing part of this discount to Punjab, which is also ruled by the party, and receiving a part in cash in Delhi.

The agency sleuths believe that there is no reason for the manufacturers not to offer discounts to the Delhi government, especially since it controls whose brand will be sold in the city.

According to sources, the agency estimates that the Delhi government would have sold liquor worth at least Rs 15,000 crore ever since the private players were ousted by scrapping the previous policy, and received at least 10% cash discount on this sale.

AAP convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is likely to be questioned by the Enforcement Directorate on Thursday on why the manufacturers stopped offering discounts to the Delhi government when they are giving it to all the other buyers.

When the new liquor policy was introduced by the Delhi government for the year 2021-22, hefty discounts, ranging from 10% to 35%, were offered by some manufacturers to the wholesalers, and by wholesalers to the retailers.

These discounts were given by using the instrument of credit notes, which are legally permissible. It is a practice followed across the country.

According to the CBI, these credit notes had become the main instrument of generating cash for payment of kickback to the AAP functionaries. Since the now-scrapped 2021-22 policy had withdrawn the government from the liquor business and handed it over completely to the private players, it was the private players, including manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers who generated the cash and allegedly paid the kickbacks.

A large number of manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers have been arrested by the CBI and the ED. Former Delhi excise minister Manish Sisodia has also been arrested in the case. Another top leader Sanjay Singh has been arrested in connection with the case.

Tryst with the CBI in April 
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had in April last appeared before the CBI in the same excise policy scam. “The CBI asked around 56 questions regarding the excise policy, including when and why the policy was started,” he said, adding the  questioning was friendly.

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