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ED arrests liquor businessman, claims he facilitated bribe for AAP

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate has made a fresh arrest in the Delhi excise policy money laundering case as it took into custody liquor businessman Amandeep Singh Dhall for allegedly conspiring with AAP leaders and others for facilitating kickbacks to the political party, officials said on Thursday.

Dhall, the executive director of Brindco Sales Private Limited, was arrested Wednesday night under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) following his questioning, they said.

Brindco is a major importer and distributor of a variety of liquor brands and related beverages.

Dhall was sent to five days ED custody by a Delhi court after the agency produced him before it.

“Aman (Amandeep) Dhall had conspired with other persons and actively involved in formation of policy and facilitating kickbacks to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its recoupment by the South Group’ through various means.

“By such acts, proceeds of crime to the tune of Rs 7.68 crore was generated and Dhall played a role in the generation, transfer and concealment of the proceeds of crime and projected the same as untainted,” the federal probe agency informed the court in its document seeking the remand of the businessman.

It alleged Dhall played an important role in payment of kickbacks to AAP leaders from its wholesale profit of 12 per cent”, adding that he played a similar role in coordinating and attending meetings related to the policy (excise) formulation and the meetings of the South Group representatives with Vijay Nair (AAP communication in-charge arrested in the case) and others”.

It claimed Dhall had in his possession the draft Delhi excise policy 2021-22 on May 31, 2021 whereas the policy was released on the website by the excise department in July that year.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) said Dhall routed the alleged bribe money in this case using “credit notes”.

The agency said it questioned Dhall about 10-11 times since October, 2022 but claimed he was “not cooperating with the investigation and not revealing the truth by giving evasive replies”.

“Hence, custodial interrogation of Aman Dhall is need of the hour to unearth this multi-crore scam,” it said.

According to an FIR lodged by the CBI, AAP functionary Vijay Nair, Manoj Rai, Dhall and Sameer Mahandru were actively involved in framing and implementing the Delhi government’s excise policy for 2021-22.

The ED’s money laundering case stems from the CBI FIR.

In its second charge sheet filed in the case, the ED had appended the statement of another accused, Arun Pillai, who claimed that Dhall “had a good grasp of the Delhi liquor market and knew all the minute details of the (excise) policy changes”.

“Aman (Dhall) explained to them how the market will work and how to use the loopholes introduced in the policy to their advantage…,” the ED said.

The ED has filed two charge sheets or prosecution complaints in the case so far and arrested a total of 10 people, including Dhal.

The excise policy was scrapped in August last year and the Delhi lieutenant governor subsequently asked the CBI to probe the alleged irregularities and corruption involving government authorities, bureaucrats and liquor traders, among others.

The CBI arrested Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in the case on Sunday.