5 December 2022

New Delhi: Expanding its money laundering investigations into alleged irregularities in the now scrapped Delhi excise policy to Punjab, the Enforcement Directorate on Friday conducted searches at more than 35 premises, also including some places in Del hi and Hyderabad.

The agency, according to sources, has found some fresh details of alleged money laundering against senior excise officials of Punjab. Officials claimed that they had collected some crucial evidence during searches at the residence of the Punjab excise commissioner and the premises of the additional excise commissioner on September 7.

Senior officials said the AAP government in Punjab had allegedly tried to replicate the irregularities committed in Delhi.

ED conducts searches at 35 places

Some liquor distributors, companies and linked entities are being searched after the agency obtained fresh leads during the questioning of the accused while in the custody of ED and CBI, sources said.

So far, more than 100 premises have been searched by ED in this case. On September 28, the agency arrested IndoSpirits managing director Sa meer Mahendru who is considered close to top AAP functionaries and was accused of laundering the proceeds of the liquor scam.

Delhi’s deputy CM Man ish Sisodia is accused of No 1 in the CBI FIR that was lodged against him and 15 others on August 17 to probe the liquor licensing scam.

Two days after registering its FIR in the excise case, CBI searched the premises of Sisodia and other top officials of Delhi’s Excise department who have been named in the case, including Arva Gopi Krishna, the then excise commissioner, deputy commissioner Anand Tiwari and assistant commissioner Pan kaj Bhatnagar.

Vijay Nair, another close associate of the top leadership of AAP and the party’s head of communication strategy, was taken into custody by CBI a day before ED picked up Mahendru. The agency is probing Nair and Mahendru for their suspected role in the liquor trade in Pun jab and Delhi. Nair was also entrusted with media strategy for Gujarat after his successful performance during the Punjab elections.

Another AAP functionary MLA Durgesh Pathak has been questioned by the agency in connection with his alleged role in the framing of the controversial excise policy.

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