“Arvind Kejriwal Directly Used Part Of Liquor Scam Kickbacks”: Probe Agency

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal “directly used” part of the alleged Rs 100 crore generated from the “kickbacks” of the Delhi excise policy “scam” by staying in a luxury hotel in Goa, the Enforcement Directorate has claimed in its chargesheet filed against the AAP chief.

The federal probe agency also said the GoM (Group of Ministers) constituted by his government in this context was a “sham”.

A special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court on Tuesday took cognisance of the prosecution complaint, filed on May 17, and issued a production warrant for the jailed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader for July 12.

The 55-year-old politician and the AAP have been named as accused in this seventh supplementary chargesheet filed in the case.

Regarding Mr Kejriwal’s role, the 209-page chargesheet said, “Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of NCT of Delhi is the kingpin and key conspirator of the Delhi excise scam in collusion with ministers of Delhi govt, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders and other persons.”

The AAP, which rules Delhi and Punjab, responded to the ED chargesheet on Tuesday saying the BJP-led government at the Centre was hatching a “big conspiracy” against the party and that the political outfit was being finished off.

“Arvind Kejriwal has directly used part of these proceeds of crime personally by making Chanpreet Singh (another accused in the case) to make payment for Sh Arvind Kejriwal stay and event at the Grand Hyatt, Goa,” the agency claimed.

It said that Mr Kejriwal also “mingled” these proceeds of crime with the funds of the Delhi government.

It has been alleged that the ‘South Group’ of politicians and liquor businessmen gave Rs 100 crore worth of kickbacks to gain a favourable position in the Delhi excise policy for 2021-22 and out of these funds, Rs 45 crore was sent for the AAP campaign in Goa during the 2022 assembly polls.

“The AAP kept the expenses made out of the proceeds of crime of Rs 45 crore out of the books and did not disclose the same to the Election Commission of India,” it said.

In this manner, it alleged, Mr Kejriwal “had the control over the proceeds of crime of Rs 100 crore at each stage, and thus activity of generation, acquisition and possession, transfer use and concealment and projection of the same as untainted carried out on this proceeds of crime by Sh Arvind Kejriwal”.

The agency said Mr Kejriwal was “liable” to be punished for his role in commission of offence of money laundering under section 4 of the PMLA and also “vicariously” as he is responsible for the conduct of the business/affairs of the AAP, deemed a company under section 70 of the PMLA.

The agency recorded Mr Kejriwal’s statement 11 times since he was arrested on March 21 from his official bungalow in Delhi, but alleged that he gave “evasive replies” and “concealed information” during his custodial interrogation.

The ED said it has seized a number of digital devices used by Mr Kejriwal but he refused to open these gadgets and this denial was recorded in writing and captured in the video footage of his questioning.

In his defence, Mr Kejriwal told ED interrogators that his lawyers have advised him that he is “not required” to share the password of these devices, the chargesheet said.

“Mr Kejriwal who is the ultimate in-charge of AAP and was intrinsically involved in the acts of policy formulation, kickback scheme and the final use of the proceeds of crime thus generated including conspiracy thereof,” the ED claimed.

It said Mr Kejriwal being the national convenor and member of the national executive of AAP, was ultimately responsible for the funds being used in the election expenses including in the Goa assembly elections.

The agency claimed that another accused in the case– Vinod Chauhan– was “managing postings” for officers in Delhi Jal Board (DJB) “through” Arvind Kejriwal.

It is alleged that Chauhan was responsible for transfer of Rs 25.5 crore from Delhi to Goa, out of the alleged kickbacks of Rs 45 crore meant for poll campaign.

The ED said the GoM constituted by the Delhi government was “a sham as revealed by statements of the excise officials who revealed that they were never consulted on any major policy decision.” 

It said Delhi Transport minister Kailash Gehlot recorded his statement with the agency saying that he “simply agreed to the policy changes since Manish Sisodia (former Delhi deputy CM and excise minister) was a senior leader and he had told that increase in the profit margin from 5 per cent to 12 per cent was a good proposal and thus he (Gahlot) accepted it”.

The ED has alleged that the excise policy was brought in by the leaders of the AAP as “an outcome of the conspiracy of quid pro quo to continuously generate and channel illegal funds to themselves and certain private individuals.” 

The chargesheet also said Vijay Nair was his “close associate” and acted as a middleman for getting bribes or kickbacks from various stakeholders in the Delhi liquor business in exchange for favourable outcomes in the policy being drafted and Kejriwal demanded kickbacks from the South Group in exchange for awarding favours to them in the formulation and implementation of the policy.

It said when certain L1 wholesalers refused to give kickbacks to the AAP in Delhi, their businesses were targeted in Punjab through the state officials and so he played a role in arm-twisting them.

It said BRS leader K Kavitha “conspired with the members of the South Group and the AAP leaders through Vijay Nair to pay kickbacks to the tune of Rs 100 crore and receive undue benefits”.

Regarding Mr Kejriwal’s conduct, the chargesheet said he submitted false information and evasive replies during his custodial interrogation.

“On being asked about the extent of interaction and reporting of Vijay Nair to the accused Arvind Kejriwal, he stated that Vijay Nair didn’t report to him but to Atishi Marlena and Saurav Bharadwaj and his interaction with Sh Vijay Nair was limited. However, the statements of Vijay Nair himself reveal that he stayed in a cabinet minister’s bungalow and worked from the camp office of the CM,” it said citing an example of his “misleading replies”.

“The accused has even given false and contrary evidence vis-à-vis other members of the AAP and contrary to the facts and records available. When he was confronted with the statements given by his own party leaders he has called them confused,” the chargesheet added.

The excise case pertains to alleged corruption and money laundering in formulating and executing the Delhi government’s excise policy for 2021-22, which was later scrapped.

Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena had recommended a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities. Subsequently, the ED registered a case under the PMLA.

Taking cognisance of a CBI FIR lodged on August 17, 2022, the ED filed its money laundering case on August 22, 2022, to probe the alleged irregularities. 

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