Chhattisgarh ‘Liquor Scam’: Court extends ED custody of excise official Tripathi, three others

A special court in Raipur on Monday extended till May 19 the Enforcement Directorate custody of four persons, including a Chhattisgarh excise department official, in connection with a money laundering case linked to the alleged Rs 2,000 crore liquor scam in the state.

The court of additional district and sessions judge Ajay Singh Rajput extended the ED remand of special secretary of state’s excise department Arunpati Tripathi, liquor businessman Anwar Dhebar, Nitesh Purohit and Trilok Singh Dhillon alias Pappu, by four days, the ED’s lawyer Saurabh Pandey said.

They were produced in the court after the expiry of their remand, he added.

Anwar Dhebar, the elder brother of Raipur Mayor and Congress leader Aijaz Dhebar, was the first person to be arrested by the agency in this case on May 6.

Purohit, promoter of Giriraj Hotel located in Raipur, and liquor businessman Dhillon were arrested last week. Tripathi was arrested by the federal anti-money laundering agency on May 12.

Tripathi, an Indian Telecom Services officer, is posted in the excise department on deputation. He is also the MD of Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation (which deals in retail sales of all kinds of liquor/beer/wine in the state).

The money laundering case stems from a 2022 income tax department charge sheet filed against IAS officer Anil Tuteja and others in a court in Delhi.

The ED had told the court about a massive scam in the liquor trade in Chhattisgarh perpetrated by a syndicate, comprising high-level state government officials, private persons and political executives that generated corruption money of more than Rs 2,000 crore between 2019-22.

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It had said Tuteja was the “kingpin” of the syndicate along with Anwar Dhebar and the corruption money was also used for electioneering.

The federal agency had also alleged that a “bribe” was collected from distillers in the state on a per liquor case basis procured from the CSMCL (state body for purchase and sale of liquor) and country liquor was being sold off-the-books.

According to ED, “bribes” were taken from distillers to allow them to form a cartel and have a fixed market share.

“This cartel was exclusively a supplier (of liquor) for the state of Chhattisgarh,” the ED said, adding that the “commission” was also generated from the sale of foreign liquor in the state.

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