Raising the political heat further in Telangana, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has said that the so-called “South Group” — comprising BRS MLC K Kavitha, YSRCP MP Magunta Sreenivasalu Reddy, and Aurobindo Pharma Director Sarath Chandra Reddy — allegedly played a crucial role in the Delhi liquor scam.
On Tuesday, 20 December, the Rouse Avenue Court in Delhi took into consideration the ED’s prosecution complaint filed back on 11 November.
In the complaint, the ED said a deal was struck between Kavitha and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) wherein in a sum of ₹100 crore was paid in kickbacks to Vijay Nair of AAP.
She got access to the Delhi liquor business specifically through stakes in Indo Spirits, a company registered in the Okhla Industrial Area in New Delhi, the complaint added.
The ED said in its complaint that Hyderabad businessman Arun Ramachandra Pillai represented Kavitha in Indo Spirits.
On 11 December, the CBI had recorded Kavitha’s statement as a witness in the case at her posh Banjara Hills residence.
Kavitha Tweets a response
Hours after she was yet again named in an ED complaint, Kavitha on Wednesday, 21 December, took to Twitter to say that a falsehood would not become the truth even if her name was mentioned 28 times or 28,000 times in the prosecution complaint.
“Don’t be hasty in blaming me,” she tweeted in response to a post by former MLA Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy that “Liquor Queen’s” name was mentioned 28 times in the charge sheet. Reddy also tagged an article related to liquor scam published in a vernacular newspaper along with his tweet.
Reacting to Kavitha’s Tweet, scores of netizens extended support to her. “No matter how many Enforcement Directorates (EDs) come, no one can do anything,” a netizen Prince Harish Tweeted.
In another tweet, Rana Tabassum termed Kavitha as “Sherni of Telangana”.
“We are always with you maam,” she said. One more netizen, Professor Sheikh Tweeted, “With these bogus cases, the people of the country have not gained a single rupee and instead focus on public issues. #TruthWillPrevail.”
To another Tweet posted by Telangana Congress Affairs in-charge Manickam Tagore, she responded through a separate Tweet: “The accusations on me are completely bogus and false. Only time will prove my sincerity. It’s a political vendetta of BJP, as they fear BRS Party Chief CM KCR ji would expose their anti-farmer & pro-capitalist policies.”
Name in 11 November complaint
According to ED, Ramachandra Pillai became a partner in Indo Spirits on Kavitha’s behalf and fixed funds for the investment that was required on paper to become a partner.
The ED said that Pillai attended a meeting at the Oberoi Maidens in New Delhi, along with Kavitha and others. Since he was aware of the agenda of the meeting and had overheard the conversation, he stated that, in this meeting, the recovery of the kickbacks paid was also discussed.
Ramachandra Pillai also fixed a meeting with Sameer, the de facto owner and controller of Indo-Spirits, with Kavitha a couple of times through facetime, and also organised a face-to-face meeting in Hyderabad where the business matters of Indo Spirits were discussed, the ED complaint says.
He also confirmed the agenda of the calls that were made between Sameer and Kavitha, and he revealed to Sameer that Kavitha was the actual investor behind him.
What the complaint says
Vijay Nair, accused No 5 in the FIR issued by the CBI, and communications and media in-charge of AAP, received kickbacks of ₹100 crore on behalf of AAP leaders from the “South Group”. These kickbacks were paid in advance through Vijay Nair as part of their agreement.
In return for payment of kickbacks, the “South Group” secured uninhibited access, undue favours, stakes in established wholesale business and multiple retail zones over and above what was allowed in the liquor policy, the ED complaint states.
To facilitate extracting profit from the deal, the “South Group” was given 65 percent stake in Indo Sprits in collusion with Sameer Mahandru. This partnership formation was directed by Vijay Nair on the assurance of giving the wholesale business of Pernod Ricard to Indo Spirits.
According to the prosecution complaint, Nair held discussions during January 2021 with Aman Dhall (Brindco), Sameer Mahandru (Indo Spirits), Benoy Babu (Pernod Ricard), Jagbir Sidhoo (Diageo, Head, North India), ADS persons (Maans) and persons from Bacaardi.
Nair links to Sisodia
It said Nair was also close to Dinesh Arora and Arjun Pandey, key aides of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
In the 11 November complaint, the ED said Vijay Nair lived in a house next to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s office and had unrestrained access. Nair, it said, used to spend most of his time there.
Whenever he was not having meetings with liquor industry players, Vijay Nair used to interact with Arvind Kejriwal and had full access to him. This was mainly because Vijay Nair was handling all social media handles and ads for the AAP and the Delhi government.
Dinesh Arora met Kavitha twice and the meeting that took place at Oberoi Maidens, where Dinesh Arora, Vijay Nair, Arun Pillai, and Kavitha were present, discussed the Delhi liquor scam and issue of recovery of kickbacks paid to Vijay Nair.