Just days after Dinesh Arora, a key aide of AAP leader Manish Sisodia, turned approver in the Delhi liquor scam case, the ripple effects are being felt in the Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
On the morning of Thursday, 10 November, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested P Sarath Chandra Reddy, director of Hyderabad-based Aurobindo Pharma, one of the big listed entities in the pharma sector in the country.
Along with him, the ED also arrested businessman Vinay Babu from Andhra Pradesh, who also has interests in the liquor trade.
Over the past fortnight, the ED had summoned Sarath Chandra Reddy to Delhi many times to quiz him in connection with the liquor deal entered into with the AAP government in Delhi.
The ED has accused Sarath Reddy of investing in the liquor business in Delhi through the Chennai-based Trident Life Sciences.
Sarath is also a director of Trident Life Sciences.
A loss-making scam
As it turns out, all those who had bid for liquor distribution licenses in Delhi appear to have lost substantial amounts of money — ranging from ₹100 crore to ₹300 crore — owing to their failure to open as many retail outlets as were permitted, for a variety of reasons.
With the revised liquor policy coming under the scanner within months and finally getting scrapped, it turned out to be a trade that went sour, with the investment not yielding the expected returns and the bidders losing out on advances paid to the government.
The ED is expected to come out with an official statement on the arrests soon.
The CBI had already arrested Abhishek Rao, who reportedly has links with the family of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao, in connection with the same case.
The CBI opposed bail to Rao on the ground that he could influence the investigation.
Aurobindo mention in Cash for MLAs tape
Incidentally, the names of Aurobindo Pharma and someone called “Sarath” find a mention in the audio clips released by the ruling TRS in Telangana as proof of three alleged BJP emissaries’ botched bid to poach four of its MLAs.
In one of the audio clips released by the party, one of the alleged emissaries, the Hyderabad hotelier Nanda Kumar, is purportedly heard telling “Swamyji” that they could perhaps discuss the Aurobindo Pharma issue as “Sarath is close with Rohit sir” — Rohit being Pilot Rohit Reddy, the TRS MLA who was offered ₹100 crore to jump ship.
To which the Swamyji purportedly says: “Aurbindo pharma? That is a very crucial case, that they have to sit and deal with them…” And Nanda Kumar replies: “When you come na Swamy, will try and arrange a meeting.”
Rohit Reddy, however, interjects to say, “Nandu, false promises na oddu”, and adds: “Swamyji, I don’t want to get involved in that; he is good friend of mine, it’s true, but as of now, I don’t want to involve in that matter, Swamyji.”