Delhi excise scam case: Court extends ED custody of CBI’s approver Dinesh Arora by six days

A court here on Tuesday extended by six days the Enforcement Directorate custody of businessman Dinesh Arora in a money laundering case linked to the alleged Delhi excise scam.

Arora had been on November 16 declared an approver in a corruption case related to the alleged scam being probed by the CBI.

Special Judge M K Nagpal extended Arora’s ED custody till July 17 after he was produced before the court on the expiry of his four-day custodial interrogation granted earlier.

Seeking the businessman’s custody for seven more days, the federal probe agency told the court that his interrogation was required to unearth a larger conspiracy in the matter.

Arora was arrested under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) late on the night of July 6 after a long session of questioning. Sources said he was evasive in his replies and was not cooperating with the agency following which he was arrested.

He was allegedly a close associate of Aam Aadmi Party leader and former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia who is also an accused in the excise policy case and has been arrested by the ED as well as the CBI.

The ED, in a supplementary charge sheet, has accused Sisodia of receiving bribes from Amit Arora, another businessman also an accused in the case, through Dinesh Arora. The federal probe agency has described this bribe amount as “proceeds of crime” under PMLA.

“Amit Arora paid Rs 2.2 crore to Manish Sisodia through Dinesh Arora for getting policy changes in his favour in the GoM report/excise policy 2021-22. This amount is directly a bribe/kickback to a government functionary and is proceeds of crime under section 2(1)(u) of PMLA, 2002. In this manner, Manish Sisodia participated in the generation of this proceeds of crime,” the ED said in its prosecution complaint filed in May.

Amit Arora is the promoter of liquor companies Buddy Retail Pvt Ltd, Popular Spirits and KSJM Spirits LLP.

It is probably a rare or the first instance where an accused-turned-approver (prosecution witness) in the CBI investigation has been arrested by the ED while the two federal agencies probed the same case.

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The ED’s money laundering case stems from the predicate offence registered by the CBI. If the CBI case falls, the money laundering case too will not stand, as per a Supreme Court order of last year where it issued a number of directives while interpreting PMLA provisions.

Dinesh Arora is the 13th arrest in this case by the ED in which the probe agency has filed five charge sheets, including against Sisodia.

The ED and the CBI have alleged that the Delhi government’s excise policy for 2021-22 to grant licences to liquor traders allowed cartelisation and favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it. The ruling Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi has strongly refuted the charge.

The excise policy was scrapped after Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena recommended a CBI probe into the corruption allegation. Following this, the ED registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

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