Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s daughter and MLC K Kavitha is one of the persons of the “South Group”, that comprised of three other members, who paid kickbacks of Rs 100 crore to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to gain control over the liquor business in Delhi, the Enforcement Directorate alleged in a chargesheet filed on Tuesday, reported The Indian Express.
The chargesheet was filed before a special judge at the Rouse Avenue district court. The ED, which is investigating the money laundering aspect of the case, alleged that the now-scrapped excise policy caused a “loss of Rs 2,873 crore to the government exchequer”.
The ED said it relied on statements by Indospirits MD Sameer Mahendru, who is also an accused in the alleged money laundering case, and was arrested by the ED on September 27.
“The policy was formulated with deliberate loopholes, inbuilt mechanism to facilitate illegal activities and is marred with inconsistencies which when looked deeply, reflect malafide intentions of the policymakers,” the ED alleged in its first charge sheet filed in the scam, as quoted by PTI.
It further alleged that the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 promoted cartel formations through back door, awarded exorbitant wholesale (12 per cent) and huge retail profit margin of 185% and incentivized other illegal activities on account of criminal and political conspiracy of leaders of AAP.
The 12 per cent profit margin to the wholesalers was devised to extract a portion of it as a kickback to the AAP leaders, the chargesheet read.
Vijay Nair received kickbacks
Further, it said that AAP’s communication in-charge and co-accused Vijay Nair also arm-twisted few wholesalers to surrender their licenses. Nair, the former CEO of events company Only Much Louder (OML), was arrested by the CBI in September in connection with alleged irregularities in the Delhi excise policy case.
“Nair, on behalf of leaders of AAP has received kickbacks to the tune of Rs 100 Cr from a group, whose prominent persons are Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, Raghav Magunta, Sh Sarath Reddy and K Kavitha. These kickbacks were paid in advance to the AAP leaders through Vijay Nair by the South Group as a part of agreement between the South Group and the AAP leaders. Against the kickbacks paid, the south group secured uninhibited access, undue favours, attained stakes in established wholesale businesses and multiple retail zones (over and above what was allowed in the policy),” it added.
“Delhi Govt exchequer has incurred a loss of Rs 2,873 Cr during the operation period of the Excise Policy 2021-22 on account of deliberate faulty policy formulation and implementation to pass on undue favours to certain private players who are in collusion with the policymakers/GoM/Excise Department of Govt of Delhi,” it further alleged.
After the allegations, Kavitha told news agency PTI, “We state that we will face any kind of inquiry. If the agencies come and ask us questions we will certainly answer. But tarnishing leaders’ images by giving selective leaks to the media, people will refute it.”
CBI books Sisodia
On August 17, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had booked Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and 14 other persons on charges of irregularities in the excise policy.
Under the new policy, which was implemented on November 17, 2021, licences of 849 liquor shops were issued to private firms through open bidding. However, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended an investigation into the new policy, and on July 30, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government had rolled back the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22.
In September, Delhi was back to its old liquor policy, under which only state-run liquor stores were allowed to operate.