Delhi excise ‘scam’: Court allows two accused to turn approver in money laundering case

A Delhi court on Tuesday allowed Raghav Magunta, son of YSR Congress Party Lok Sabha MP Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, and Delhi-based businessman Dinesh Arora to turn approver in a money laundering case linked to the alleged Delhi excise policy scam.

Special Judge M K Nagpal pardoned both Magunta and Arora, while directing them to cooperate with the investigation and disclose all information they have about the case to the investigators.

The court passed the order after hearing arguments by the counsel appearing for the two accused as well as the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which was represented by Special Public Prosecutor N K Matta.

Magunta was granted bail by the Delhi High Court on August 11, after the ED did not oppose his application for relief.

The ED, in its reply, submitted that since the accused was cooperating in the investigation and assisting in tracing the proceeds of crime, which would have been otherwise difficult, he could be granted bail.

The anti-money laundering agency had arrested Arora in July, when he was already declared an approver in a related corruption case being probed by CBI.

Arora was arrested after he allegedly gave evasive replies during his questioning by the ED and was not cooperating with the investigation.

The businessman 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 and an accused in the case, through Dinesh Arora. The federal probe agency has described this bribe as “proceeds of crime” under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (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.

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The court had on November 16 last year allowed the CBI’s plea to make Dinesh Arora an approver in the case and pardoned him.

It was a rare instance of an accused-turned-approver (prosecution witness) in the CBI investigation getting arrested by the ED while the two federal agencies probed the same crime.

Earlier, Sarath Reddy, director of Aurobindo Pharma, had turned approver in the case.

The ED and the CBI have alleged the Delhi government’s excise policy for 2021-22 allowed cartelisation and favoured certain dealers who paid bribes for licences.

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 alleged corruption.

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