The Enforcement Directorate (ED), in a supplementary charge sheet on the Delhi liquor scam, has mentioned Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal’s name for the first time, even as it revealed more details about the alleged involvement of BRS MLC K Kavitha.
In the 428-page prosecution complaint on the supplementary charge sheet — filed with the Rouse Avenue District Court in Delhi on 6 January, which it took cognizance of on Thursday, 2 February — the ED said that when it grilled Hyderabad businessman Arun Ramachandra Pillai in November last year, it came to know of Kavitha’s involvement in the scam.
According to NDTV, the mention of Kejriwal’s name elicited a quick response from AAP sources which said there was no truth in the ED’s allegations and that one of the accused, Sameer Mahendru of IndoSprits, has told a court that his statement was obtained under duress.
Asked about the matter, Kejriwal, who is not named as an accused in the charge sheet, himself said, “The Enforcement Directorate must have filed 5,000 cases… The ED is meant to topple governments and buy and sell MLAs.” He termed the charge-sheet “complete fiction”.
While there was no immediate reaction from the BRS on Kavitha’s name figuring in the ED charge sheet, BRS spokesperson Krishank Manne tweeted:
SEBI , ED won’t bother #Adani because he is a best friend of Modi ji, but because @RaoKavitha ji is meeting leaders from different states, has been pointing out the failures of BJP, she is targetted by Modi Ji’s agencies based on a Approver’s statement .
BJP cannot stop her ! pic.twitter.com/Zvojsfb6N0
— Krishank (@Krishank_BRS) February 2, 2023
What the charge sheet says
The ED has stated that the scam was scripted at Delhi’s Oberoi Hotel and that Kavitha had coordinated with AAP.
It also stated that Kavitha had flown to Delhi from Hyderabad on special flights, several times. The ED charged that Kavitha had destroyed all the phones that she had used then.
In the prosecution complaint, the ED had listed 17 names, including companies, as accused in the case.
They are Sameer Mahendru and four companies owned by him, AAP media coordinator Vijay Nair, P Sarath Chandra Reddy and three companies owned by him, Benoy Babu of liquor firm Pernod Ricard, a company owned by Rajesh Mishra, Hyderabad businessman Abhishek Boinpally, and Amit Arora and three companies owned by him.
The ED said that ₹100 crore mobilised by the so-called “South Group”, in which the names of Kavitha and YSRCP MP Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy had figured, had reached AAP and that the amount was spent in the Goa elections.
The ED also maintained that Vijay Nair implemented the scam from the camp office of Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal.
According to the ED’s new charge sheet, Vijay Nair arranged a FaceTime video call from his phone between Mahendru and Kejriwal in which the Delhi chief minister is said to have told the former the Vijay was “his boy” and that Mahendru should “trust him and carry on with him”.
The tale of IndoSpirits
The investigation agency said that Arun Ramachandra Pillai, in a statement given to them on 11 November, had stated that there was a deal/understanding between K Kavitha and AAP, wherein kickbacks were paid to the tune of ₹100 crore to help Kavitha get access to the Delhi liquor business, specifically stakes in L1, that is IndoSpirits.
Arun Pillai had said that he represented Kavitha in IndoSpirits and he became a partner on her behalf. Further, he arranged the funds for the investment that was required on paper to become a partner.
In his subsequent statement to the ED on 20 November, he said that he was aware of the circumstances under which he got the partnership in IndoSpirits, wherein Sameer (Mahendru) was pressured into giving up 65 percent stake in his business in order to get the business of Pernod Ricard.
He confirmed that he had connected Kavitha with Sameer a couple of times through FaceTime and also arranged a physical meeting in Hyderabad where the business matters of IndoSpirits was discussed.
Questioned by the ED
Though the ED often takes cognisance of the evidence in a charge sheet or FIR filed by the CBI, in the case of the Delhi liquor scam, it was the other way round — the CBI followed the ED and recorded Kavitha’s statement under Section 161 of the CrPC in a daylong “examination” as a witness on 11 December.
The CBI officials, after recording her statement, dropped hints that they might summon her to appear before them under Section 42A in the future.
Later, after the quizzing was over, Kavitha had come out of her house and waved at a crowd that turned up to express solidarity with her.