Excise policy: ED likely to question Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal about AAP funds | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Excise policy: ED likely to question Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal about AAP funds

Nov 02, 2023 04:50 AM IST

ED had alleged in its charge sheet that a part of the ₹100 crore kickback received in connection with the Delhi excise policy was used in the campaign in Goa

When Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal appears before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday, he is likely to be asked about funds received for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) campaign during last year’s Goa elections, officials from the federal agency familiar with developments said.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was summoned to appear before ED at its headquarters in connection with its money laundering probe in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy. (HT Photo)
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was summoned to appear before ED at its headquarters in connection with its money laundering probe in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy. (HT Photo)

Kejriwal was summoned to appear before ED at its headquarters in connection with its money laundering probe in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy. On April 16, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) questioned Kejriwal in a parallel probe it is conducting into allegations of irregularities in the excise policy.

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Kejriwal and the AAP have denied all charges. The AAP has also repeatedly alleged that the summons to Kejriwal were a political ploy to destabilise the government and arrest him on flimsy charges.

The officials cited above said they were expecting Kejriwal to appear for questioning, but that there was no communication from him till late evening on Wednesday, adding that a detailed questionnaire was prepared.

Senior AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh are already behind bars in connection with the excise policy allegations. They, too, have denied all charges.

Read Here | ‘If Delhi CM can be arrested…’: BJP leader as ED summons Arvind Kejriwal in excise policy case

ED had alleged in its charge sheet that a part of the 100 crore kickback received in connection with the Delhi excise policy was used in the AAP campaign in Goa. These alleged kickbacks, received from the so-called South Group, were transferred to former AAP communications in-charge Vijay Nair with the help of two other accused, Abhishek Boinpally and Dinesh Arora. Arora, in turn, assisted Rajesh Joshi of Chariot Productions Media Pvt Ltd to use these funds in the advertisement and election of AAP in Goa, according to one of the ED’s charge sheets.

The agency informed the Supreme Court this month that it was contemplating making AAP an accused in the case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Besides funding, Kejriwal may be asked whether he allowed Nair a free hand in dealing with liquor manufacturers and wholesalers to set the terms for the policy, said the officials cited above. ED claimed in its charge sheet filed in January that Kejriwal told liquor businessman Sameer Mahendru — during a call arranged by AAP’s Vijay Nair — that “Vijay (Nair) is his boy and that he should trust him.”

The CM may also be asked about reported claims made by his then secretary, C Arvind, who apparently told investigators that he was informed of the decision to carve out a 12% commission for wholesale private entities at Kejriwal’s residence in March 2021.

In one of its charge sheets filed in the case – ED has filed five charge sheets so far – the financial crimes agency had said that the excise policy was Kejriwal’s “brainchild”.

The excise policy was rolled out for the 2021-22 financial year in November 2021, marking the exit of the government from retail sales of alcohol and allowing private companies to bid for licenses. The objective, the Delhi government said, was to improve the buying experience for citizens by allowing market competition to raise standards.

But the policy was scrapped when Delhi’s LG VK Saxena asked for a probe, citing a report by the chief secretary who alleged irregularities. The AAP and the Capital’s elected government have rejected the charges.

On Tuesday, Delhi minister Atishi said, “It is being reported from various sources that on November 2, the ED will also arrest Arvind Kejriwal and put him in jail. He will be arrested not because there is any case or evidence against him, but because the Union government is afraid of him”.

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