The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday arrested businessman Sameer Mahendru in connection with its money laundering investigation into alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy. Mahendru is the managing director of liquor distribution company Indospirit and his arrest is the second big arrest in the case after Vijay Nair.
After a whole day and night of questioning, Mahendru was taken into custody under the criminal provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). He was presented before a Delhi court where the ED sought his custody for further interrogation. Accordingly, the court remanded Mahendru to the EDs custody till October 6. Mahendru has been questioned earlier by the CBI, which is also probing the case. The businessman had allegedly made two payments – `1 crore to Dinesh Arora, a close aide of Deputy Chief Minister Sisodia, and a payment approximately between `2-4 crore to a Gurugram-based alleged conduit Arjun Pandey on behalf of Nair.
Mahendru’s Indospirit got the L-1 wholesale licence in the Excise Policy and investigations are on into allegations that the company also formed an association with other companies to get retail licences, in violation of the rules of the policy.
Interestingly, Mahendru was a key CBI witness in a 2008 corruption case against two officials of the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd for allegedly obtaining illegal gratification in cash and kind from various distributors/distillers of liquor, for placing supply orders as well as for promotion of their brands.
The money laundering case stems from a CBI FIR and both the federal agencies have undertaken multiple search operations in the case till now.
The CBI, in its FIR, has mentioned two instances where Mahendru allegedly made payments totaling about `4-5 crore to "close associates" of Sisodia.
The CBI has alleged that Radha Industries managed by Arora received Rs 1 crore from Mahendru. "Source further revealed that Arun Ramchandra Pillai used to collect undue pecuniary advantage from Mahendru for onward transmission to the accused public servants through Nair.
A person named Pandey had once collected about Rs 2-4 crore from Mahendru on behalf of Nair," it claimed. According to officials, the Chief Secretary's report had shown prima facie violations, including "deliberate and gross procedural lapses", to provide post-tender "undue benefits to liquor licensees" through the policy.