The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday, 26 November, filed its first charge sheet against Sameer Mahendru, one of the accused in the Delhi excise scam in the Rouse Avenue District Court in Delhi.
A day earlier, the CBI had filed its first charge sheet against seven accused persons, who included three businessmen from Hyderabad — Arun Ramachandra Pillai, Mootha Guatam and Abhishek Boinpalli.
In both the charge sheets, the investigation agencies had not named Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia.
The case is about the suspected tampering with the excise policy of the Delhi government, which envisaged the government exiting the liquor business and providing undue favours to private players.
The Delhi liquor excise policy scam broke out when Delhi Lieutenant-Governor VK Saxena recommended a CBI probe into suspected irregularities in the implementation of Delhi’s Excise Policy for the year 2021-22. He also placed 11 excise officials under suspension.
Mahendru, who has been named by both agencies in their charge sheets, is the managing director of Indospirits based in Delhi.
The ED charge sheet against him ran into 3,000 pages. The ED told the court that it would be filing subsequent charge sheets against the other accused.
The ED probe
Earlier, the ED conducted about 169 search operations and arrested, among others, Sharath Chandra Reddy, the managing director of the Hyderabad-based Aurobindo Pharma. He also has interests in several other companies. The ED also arrested Binoy Babu of Pernod Ricard, a liquor company.
In August, the ED stepped in, after the CBI had begun its investigation, suspecting that the accused might have violated the Prevention of Money-Laundering (Maintenance of Records) Rules.
The ED sleuths searched the premises of Ramchandran Pillai, who owns Robin Distributors, and that of Butchibabu, the auditor of Robin Distributors in Hyderabad.
ED had said that Sharath Chandra Reddy was in direct control of five retail zones, and with other members of the cartel, controlled four zones. This cartel effectively controlled 30 percent of the Delhi liquor market.
He and others led a cartel that gave kickbacks of ₹100 crore through Vijay Nair and through a web of multiple retail zones from which Indo Spirits, as the wholesaler, recovered payments, the ED had alleged.