The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has claimed that Rs 2,161 crore of corruption money was generated in the alleged “liquor scam” that began in 2019 in Chhattisgarh with the syndicate comprising senior bureaucrats of state, politicians, their associates and officials of the Excise Department.
In its prosecution complaint filed on Tuesday before a special court here in a money laundering case linked to alleged liquor scam in the state, the central agency said this Rs 2,161 crore amount should have gone to the state exchequer.
It named Anwar Dhebar, brother of Congress leader and Raipur Mayor Aijaz Dhebar, Managing Director of Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited (CSMCL) Arunpati Tripathi, liquor businessman Trilok Singh Dhillon, hotelier Nitesh Purohit and Arvind Singh as accused.
The ‘prosecution complaint’ along with relied upon documents, in 13,000 pages, was filed in the court under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), said ED’s counsel Saurabh Pandey.
The ED in the prosecution complaint said, the investigation has established that “unprecedented corruption” was done between 2019 to 2023 in the state excise department in multiple ways and approximately Rs 2,161 crore of the corruption money generated by the syndicate involved in it.
The entire amount is nothing but the rightful amount which should have gone to the state exchequer and should have been taxed and yielded revenue for the central and state governments, it said.
The main responsibilities of the Excise Department are to regulate the supply of liquor, ensure quality liquor to users to prevent hooch tragedies and to earn revenue for the state. But the criminal syndicate led by (recently retired) Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Anil Tuteja and Anwar Dhebar turned these objectives upside down, it said.
They systematically altered the liquor policy as per their whims and fancies and extorted maximum personal benefits for themselves, it added.
This syndicate comprises senior bureaucrats of state, politicians, their associates and officials of the excise department, it said.
In February 2019, Arunpati Tripathi, an Indian Telecom Service (ITS) officer, was chosen by the syndicate to lead CSMCL (state body for purchase and sale of liquor). In May that year, he was made the Managing Director of the organization at the behest of Dhebar, it said.
Tripathi was assigned the task to maximise the bribe commission collected on liquor procured by CSMCL, and to make necessary arrangements for sale of non-duty paid liquor through the CSMCL run shops, it said.
As part of the conspiracy, MD CSMCL would only procure liquor from preferred manufacturers while side-lining the ones not paying commission. As per the statements given to ED, Anwar Dhebar used to collect these commissions and major portion out of the same was shared with the political party in power, it said.
The syndicate conspired to manufacture and sell unaccounted illicit liquor through CSMCL-run shops. As part of the conspiracy, duplicate holograms were provided to distillers by the syndicate, duplicate bottles were procured in cash by the distillers, the ED said.
All the safety features introduced to ensure authentic liquor supply were compromised by the excise officials to camouflage sale of this illicit liquor.. The entire sale was off the books, it said.
Entire sale consideration was siphoned off with each person getting its share, including distiller, transporter, hologram-maker, bottle-maker, excise official, higher echelons of excise department, Dhebar, senior IAS officers and politicians, it said.
After paying the distillers (around Rs 560-600 per case) and local excise officers (around Rs 150 per case), Dhebar took the maximum remaining amount and after deducting share of 15 per cent meant for himself and Tuteja, he used to supply the remaining to politicians as per the directions from the highest political executives of the state, it added.
Reacting to the prosecution complaint, Faizal Rizvi, the lawyer of Dhebar and Dhillon, said his clients are being falsely implicated in the case.