AAP leaders asked for additional money over ₹100 crore kickbacks: ED | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

AAP leaders asked for additional money over 100 crore kickbacks: ED

Jul 10, 2024 09:26 AM IST

A Delhi court on Tuesday took cognizance of the charge sheet against the jailed CM (accused number 37) and the AAP (accused number 38), filed on May 17

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, his then deputy Manish Sisodia and former media in-charge of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Vijay Nair asked for “additional” money “over and above” 100 crore for their election funding in Goa and Punjab, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has claimed in its charge sheet against Kejriwal and AAP, citing accused-turned-approver businessman P Sarath Reddy’s statement.

In his statement recorded on March 21, the day of his arrest, Kejriwal has told ED he “didn’t know Sarath Reddy”. (PTI)
In his statement recorded on March 21, the day of his arrest, Kejriwal has told ED he “didn’t know Sarath Reddy”. (PTI)

A Delhi court on Tuesday took cognizance of the charge sheet against the jailed CM (accused number 37) and the AAP (accused number 38), filed on May 17.

The federal agency had also alleged that Vinod Chauhan, a “close associate” of Kejriwal, not only handled the transfer of 25.5 crore bribe money for AAP from Delhi to Goa but was “also managing postings of officers in the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) through the CM.

Reddy, promoter of Aurobindo Group, was a key member of the so-called South Group that allegedly gave 100 crore to the AAP in lieu of favourable excise policy in 2021-22. Other prominent persons in this Group were Lok Sabha member Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, his son Raghav Magunta and BRS leader K Kavitha (now in Tihar jail).

Sarath Reddy was arrested by the ED in November 2022 but was granted pardon under section 306 of the erstwhile criminal procedure code (CrPC) by a special court in Delhi as he agreed to turn an approver in the case.

Citing his statement, the ED charge sheet alleges that in November 2021, “there were issues like relaxation of payment of license fee, non- opening of shops in non-conforming areas etc” and whenever Abhishek Boinpally and Arun Pillai (who represented South Group) tried to discuss this matter with Vijay Nair, “he wouldn’t respond properly”.

At later stage, Covid-19 waiver was given to the retail zones, but Sarath Reddy’s zones didn’t get the expected amount of waiver.

Regarding these issues, Sarath Reddy spoke to “K Kavitha, Boinpally and Pillai and he was told that over and above 100 crore, Nair, Sisodia and Kejriwal had asked for additional amounts for their election funding in Goa and Punjab, but they had refused it”, the charge sheet alleges

“This miffed the AAP and that’s why after a point Nair didn’t give much attention to their issues,” it adds.

In his statement recorded on March 21, the day of his arrest, Kejriwal has told ED he “didn’t know Sarath Reddy”.

On Kejriwal’s association with Vinod Chauhan, an accused primarily allegedly involved in hawala transfers, the ED charge sheet says the latter was “responsible for the transfer of 25.5 crore from Delhi to Goa which was received from Abhishek Boinpally i.e. a representative of the South Group who also handled cash transfer in the quid pro quo arrangement”.

Asserting that Chauhan is “not unrelated person unknown or unassociated with the AAP leaders but is very much a close associate of the accused Arvind Kejriwal”, ED has attached their chats in the charge sheet.

In one of the chats, Chauhan is allegedly seeking time from Kejriwal for a meeting with a sitting judge, to which the CM replied “sure”.

“The acknowledgement by Arvind Kejriwal is proof that he was closely associated with Sh Vinod Chauhan,” ED alleges.

It further claims that “Vinod Chauhan’s proximity is also visible from the fact that he was managing postings for officers in Delhi Jal Board (DJB) through Arvind Kejriwal”. It has cited a chat and a screenshot of an official note of the Delhi government which approved such posting.

The federal agency has also attached Kejriwal’s statement, recorded on 11 occasions after his arrest, with the charge sheet. In one of the statements, Kejriwal has said Vijay Nair reported to Atishi Marlena and Saurabh Bhardwaj and wasn’t authorized to talk to any liquor businessmen.

Asked if Nair was given responsibility either by Delhi government or him or any other leader of AAP in respect of formulation and implementation of excise policy, Kejriwal replied “No. never”.

The CM has also claimed in his statements that he “never discussed the excise policy with any of his officers or ministers apart from it being discussed in the Cabinet”. He also said, “he doesn’t recollect any discussion on enhancing the profit margin to wholesalers from 5% to 12% was done”.

The financial crimes probe agency has so far arrested 18 accused persons including four politicians , Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia Sisodia, K Kavitha and Sanjay Singh; filed eight charge sheets against 36 persons and entities; and submitted thousands of documents as evidence in the court in the excise probe.

The Delhi government’s 2021-22 excise policy aimed to revitalize the city’s flagging liquor business. It aimed to replace a sales-volume based regime with a license fee one for traders, and promised swankier stores, free of the infamous metal grilles, ultimately giving customers a better buying experience. The policy also introduced discounts and offers on the purchase of liquor, a first for Delhi.

The plan, however, came to an abrupt end, with Delhi’s lieutenant governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommending a probe into alleged irregularities in the regime. This ultimately resulted in the policy being scrapped prematurely and being replaced by the 2020-21 regime, with AAP alleging that Saxena’s predecessor sabotaged the move with a few last-minute changes that resulted in lower-than-expected revenues.


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