In the ongoing investigation into the Delhi liquor scam, the CBI late on Tuesday, 7 February, arrested Hyderabad-based chartered accountant (CA) Butchibabu Gorantla, said to be an associate of BRS MLC K Kavitha, officials announced on Wednesday.
Butchibabu, who had been summoned to Delhi for questioning, was arrested for his alleged role in the formulation and implementation of the Delhi Excise Policy that is said to have benefitted Hyderabad-based wholesale and retail licensees and their beneficial owners under the policy for 2021-22.
Butchibabu earlier worked as the CA of Kavitha, daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, whose name was figured in the case, and who was question by the CBI in December 2022.
In September 2022, officials of the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had raided Butchibabu’s house at Aravind Nagar in Domalguda. His apartment in Sri Saikrishna Residency and his office were also searched.
The raids, according to officials, had unearthed a huge number of files and documents relating to various companies.
Related: Kejriwal in new ED charge sheet, details Kavitha’s alleged role
12 persons, companies issued notices
Butchibabu was among 12 persons and companies that received notices from the ED to appear before it in connection with the scam.
Hyderabad businessmen Abhishek Boinpally and Arun Ramachandra Pillai, IAS officer Arva Gopi Krishna and Raghu Magunta, son of YSRCP MP Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy, among others, received the notices.
Butchibabu is associated with Shree Enterprises, in which he is an individual partner, while he is a designated partner in Gorantla and Associates, and director in another private limited company, the officials said.
The CBI’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in New Delhi unit registered an FIR against Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and others under Section 120B read with 477A of Indian Penal Code, and Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, for irregularities in the framing and implementation of the excise policy.
The FIR was registered on the directions of Praveen Kumar Rai, director, Ministry of Home Affairs, to facilitate an enquiry into the matter of irregularities in the framing and implementation of the policy.
Related: Court grants 14 days interim bail to Sarath Reddy
What the FIR says
According to the FIR, Manish Sisodia, Arva Gopi Krishna, the then Commissioner (Excise) of Delhi, Anand Tiwari, the then Deputy Commissioner (Excise), and Pankaj Bhatnagar, Assistant Commissioner (Excise), were instrumental in recommending and taking decisions pertaining to the excise policy for the year 2021-22, with an intention to extend undue favours to select licensees.
In the FIR, it was alleged Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) communications in-charge Vijay Nair, also a former CEO of Only Much Louder, an entertainment and event management company, Manoj Rai, an ex-employee of liquor firm Pernod Ricard, Amandeep Dhal, owner of Brindco Spirits, and Sameer Mahendru, owner of IndoSpirits, were actively involved in irregularities in framing and implementation of the policy.
Some L-1 licence holders issued credit notes to retail vendors with an ab-initio intention to divert funds as undue pecuniary advantage to public servants. In furtherance to this, they showed false entries in their books of accounts to keep the records straight.
Related: ED attaches property of Hyderabad-based Arun Pillai
The money trail
Amit Arora, director of Buddy Retail, and Arjun Pandey are described as close associates of Manish Sisodia and said to be actively involved in managing and diverting the undue pecuniary advantage collected from liquor licensees to the accused public servants.
Mahendru is alleged to have transferred ₹1 crore to account of Radha Industries, managed by Dinesh Arora. Arun Ramchandra Pillai was alleged to be the conduit through which the money from Mahendru was passed on to the accused public servants through Vijay Nair.
Arjun Pandey once collected a huge cash amount of about ₹2 crore to ₹4 crore from Mahendru on behalf of Vijay Nair, it is alleged.
Mahadev Liquors, a proprietorship firm was granted L-I license while Sunny Marwah was an authorised signatory of the firm. Sunny Marwah was also director in companies/firms being managed by the family of the late Ponty Chadha, a major liquor distributor. Marwah was said to be in contact with the accused public servants.
The CBI filed its charge sheet on 25 November, 2022, in connection with the case.