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170 phones worth Rs 1.38 cr used in liquor scam, 14 by Manish Sisodia: ED reveals how evidence was destroyed by Sisodia, others

As per the ED's statement in the court, Vijay Nair resided in a Government bungalow allotted to Cabinet Minister of Delhi Government Kailash Gehlot who was part of Excise Policy 2021-22. Interestingly, Gehlot was living in his private residence located in Najafgarh. ED also said Nair was no ordinary AAP worker but a close aide of Arvind Kejriwal.

On November 30, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) told the court that the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, who is accused of a Delhi liquor policy scam, used 14 phones. All the accused, including Sisodia, Kalvakuntla Kavitha and Kailash Gahlot, changed phones multiple times. As per the ED, Amit Arora, a businessman from Delhi who was arrested on Wednesday, also changed phones 11 times. The agency further accused Arora and Sisodia, among others, of allegedly destroying evidence.

The ED informed Rouse Avenue court, “The magnitude of the destruction is such that most suspects, liquor barons, senior government officials, Excise Minister of Delhi (Manish Sisodia) and other suspects have changed their phones multiple times, where the approximate value of the devices used and destroyed comes to the whooping sum of Rs. 1.38 crores approx.”

ED said, “An attempt was also made to see that the evidence pertaining to the commission of this scam running into thousands of crores were either destroyed which would contain valuable digital data and material to prove further kickbacks. It is pertinent to note that major evidence with respect to the subject liquor scam was stored in digital formats both on mobile phones and laptops, however, as soon as the scam was unearthed and the case was surfaced/handed over to investigating agency, a large number of digital devices were found to be destroyed/changed by the persons involved/suspected to be involved in this case.”

ED noted that 170 phones were destroyed/used during the period which was evident by the IMEI analysis. The agency managed to recover 17 out of these 170 phones. The agency said, “At least, 36 accused/suspects involved in the Excise scam have destroyed/used 170 phones (as per IMEI analysis given in the below table). Fortunately, the ED has been able to recover 17 out of 170 phones, otherwise, the kickbacks could have been much more and the involvement of other important persons would have surfaced more clearly. But in even in these phones data was found to be deleted/formatted. It is in this background and hardship that the ED had to investigate. Despite this, incriminating material has been unearthed by the ED through the arduous process of extraction and examination of numerous devices.”

The court granted 7-day custody of businessman Amit Arora to the ED on November 30. Notably, Arora is a close associate of Sisodia. Following Arora’s arrest, he was presented in court, where ED sought his custody to interrogate him in connection to the Delhi liquor policy scam. In the remand application, the agency said Arora collected a bribe of Rs 2.5 cr from an L1 wholesaler. It was a collection in collusion with Dinesh Arora, and the amount was part of the kickback money. It was alleged to be paid to Vijay Nair, an AAP leader.

As per the agency, Arora “arm twisted” Mahadev Liquor in April-May this year with the help of the Punjab State Government and Delhi Government to surrender their companies. Later, the company was allegedly pushed to surrender their license as it did not agree to pay the kickbacks clocking to 6 per cent.

Arora allegedly threatened Mahadev Liquor that if they refused to pay the kickback (from the wholesale margin), their factories in Punjab would be closed by the Punjab Excise Department. Notably, the factories were shut down by the officials of Punjab Excise via a verbal order.

The agency noted that Arora played a crucial role in using Punjab Government’s pressure in April and May to get undue benefits by forcing the players in the liquor business to surrender their licenses as they did not agree to pay kickbacks and extortion.

ED said Arora’s role in the scam was evident from the fact that he got one L1 and two L7 licenses. Further, he was associated with other affairs linked to implementing the new Excise Policy. The agency noted he used to tell other players in the business that “Hum hi government hain (We are the government)”.

The agency accused Arora of using Sisodia’s influence to get approval to shift one of his shops. Sisodia allegedly intervenes directly to get the job done. It was admitted by both Dinesh Arora and Amit Arora in their statements. ED said Arora was the H4 bidder in the Airport L7 zone. Still, he was granted the license for the location. On his instructions, Rs 90 lakhs and Rs 10 lakhs were paid to the Excise officials for opening the retail shops.

Vijay Nair lived in Government Bungalow

As per the ED’s statement in the court, Vijay Nair resided in a Government bungalow allotted to Cabinet Minister of Delhi Government Kailash Gehlot who was part of Excise Policy 2021-22. Interestingly, Gehlot was living in his private residence located in Najafgarh.

ED said, “Sh Vijay Nair is not an ordinary worker of the AAP but a close associate of Sh Arvind Kejriwal, the CM of Delhi. Sh Vijay Nair, as per his statement under section 50 of PMLA, 2002, functions from the camp office of Sh Arvind Kejriwal, CM, Delhi. Further, Sh Vijay Nair, since 2020, has been residing in the Govt bungalow allotted to a Cabinet Minister of Delhi Govt, Sh Kailash Gehlot, part of GoM of Excise Policy 2021-22. Sh Vijay Nair, does not have any other residence in Delhi. Irony being, Sh Gehlot lives at another private residence in Najafgarh.”

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