Delhi liquor scam: Initial probe finds involvement of netas, babus; businessman Amit Arora emerges as crucial link man
The CBI is looking at the papers of Arora’s companies, especially 'expenditures' on flight tickets and hotel bills to unravel details of the nexus.
NEW DELHI: A day after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case against 15 accused and raided the residence of Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia in connection with the liquor scam, the initial findings exposed a deep nexus between bureaucrats, liquor barons and politicians — with a crucial link man at the centre of it.
Sources said the scam was operated through Amit Arora, director of Buddy Retail Pvt Limited based in Gurugram, via his network of links with bureaucrats, AAP politicians, “a Congress neta” and a southern politician. The agency called four accused for questioning and recorded their statements on Saturday.
The CBI is looking at the papers of Arora’s companies, especially “expenditures” on flight tickets and hotel bills to unravel details of the nexus.
It has been alleged that Arora, who has a background in engineering and business studies and is a director in many companies, was the brain behind drafting the “faulty” liquor policy and also the one who ensured kickbacks for all beneficiaries.
Buddy Retail Pvt Limited, which operates “two liquor zones of Delhi as well (the) airport zone and Zone 30”, is a front for a “big corporate house”, sources said. He allegedly secured the rights to the airport zone with the help of a politician.
@NewIndianXpress broke the story on June 22 that CBI would look into @ArvindKejriwal govt's liquor policy. The #CBI today registered an FIR against @msisodia and 15 others, including some unknown public servants. Raids were also conducted at Sisodia's residence. Here's the FIR. pic.twitter.com/qTmbN1UKFx— Shahid Faridi (@Shahid_Faridi_) August 19, 2022
It is alleged that the planning and drafting of the controversial liquor policy began when IAS officers Vijay Kumar Dev and Ankur Garg were at the helm of the Delhi administration.
Dev was Chief Secretary and Garg his staff officer. Sources said that Arora, who is known to have deep connections in the Delhi and Punjab bureaucracy, was in regular touch with Dev and Garg during the framing of the policy.
Arora has known Dev from the time the latter was the advisor to the Chandigarh administrator, a post he was ousted from in 2016. Arora has also known Garg for a long time.
It is alleged that Arora got in touch with Birender Pal Singh of Brindco Sales, his son Aman Dhal and Sameer Mahendru of Indo-Spirits and introduced them to AAP politicians.
It is alleged that thereafter he got them in touch with then excise commissioner Ravi Dhawan, and subsequently with Dev and Garg.
It is alleged that Dhawan, as excise commissioner, was in touch with liquor barons during the framing of the policy.
The policy papers drafted by these top officials were sent to Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. In the meantime, Sisodia is alleged to have gone through the motions of seeking public opinion.
Sources said that the letters sent by the public in response were actually believed to be drafted by AAP members.
Arora’s associates Nitin Kapoor, Arpan Sood, Dalbeer Maan and his son Virat Maan were running zones “for Reddy” (believed to refer to an MP from the south).
When Dhawan was transferred out in October 2020, IAS officer Arava Gopi Krishna, now another accused in the liquor scam, took charge as commissioner of excise.
It is alleged that he used to meet liquor barons and middlemen at his residence at odd hours and was also in touch with Arora.
Apart from regular kickbacks in terms of cash, two flats at Aralias DLF in Gurugram were also given as a kickback to the bureaucrats who rolled out the policy.
The agency is looking for a person from Aligarh, named Singla, who, always with a laptop, used to frequent Dev’s office at the Delhi Secretariat during the policy formation.
Garg was also part of the meetings, sources said. The person also used to meet AAP leaders, including Sisodia, at their residences.
Dev took premature retirement in April 2022 and Garg has been transferred from Delhi to Arunachal Pradesh in August 2022.
Sources said Arora has also “cultivated” two other IAS and two IPS officers of the AGMUT cadre.
These officers are allegedly part of the infamous “Rs 100 crore kitty club of Delhi” and Arora has been their host at parties in South Delhi and Gurugram.
CBI CALLS FOUR ACCUSED FOR QUESTIONING
The CBI on Saturday recorded the statements of some of the accused in connection with the alleged corruption in the Delhi excise policy.
The CBI did not reveal the names of the accused questioned.
However, sources told this newspaper that among those questioned were Sameer Mahendroo, managing director of Indospirit Group, Amit Arora, director of Buddy Retail Pvt Ltd, Amandeep Dhal, director, Brindco Sales Pvt Ltd and Sunny Marwah, authorized signatory of Mahadev Liquors at the CBI headquarters.