The Central Bureau of Investigation has arrested the commercial head and production controller of India Ahead News in connection with a probe into the alleged Delhi excise scam, officials said Monday.
Arvind Kumar Singh, the news channel's commercial head and production controller, was arrested for the alleged transfer of Rs 17 crore to a company, Chariot Media, handling the Aam Admi Party's (AAP) publicity campaign during the Goa elections through hawala channels, they said.
During the probe, the CBI found WhatsApp chats and records of hawala operators, which showed that Singh was allegedly instrumental in the hawala transfers of Rs 17 crore between June 2021 and January 2022 to Chariot Media which was handling the outdoor advertisement campaign for the AAP during the Goa elections, they said.
The Goa assembly polls were held on February 14, 2022.
The owner of Chariot Media, Rajesh Joshi, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on February 8 and was given bail by special court in Delhi on May 6.
The court had noted that evidence produced by the ED shows that Chariot Media made some payments to vendors for election work of the AAP but there was nothing to suggest, at this stage, to link these payments the kickback amount paid by South lobby to the co-accused Vijay Nair or his other associates.
While granting bail on May 6, the special court had ruled that statements and evidence produced by the agency are not sufficient to make it believe that the case being alleged against Joshi is a "genuine case or that he is going to be held guilty in this case on the basis of above evidence".
It is alleged that the Delhi government's excise policy for 2021-22 to grant licences to liquor traders favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge strongly refuted by the AAP. The policy was later scrapped.
"It was further alleged that irregularities were committed, including modifications in the excise policy, extending undue favours to the licensees, waiver/reduction in licence fee, the extension of L-1 license without approval etc.
"It was also alleged that illegal gains on the count of these acts were diverted to concerned public servants by private parties by making false entries in their books of accounts," a CBI spokesperson had said after the FIR was filed on August 17 last year.
It is alleged that some loopholes and lacunae were intentionally left or created in the policy and the same were meant to be utilized or exploited later on.
The CBI has alleged that kickbacks of around Rs 90-100 crore were paid in advance to some politicians of the ruling AAP in Delhi and the other public servants by some persons in liquor business from South India through co-accused Vijay Nair, Abhishek Boinpally and Dinesh Arora.
The agency has alleged that these kickbacks are found to have been returned to them subsequently out of the profit margins of wholesalers holding L-1 licences through different modes, like issuance of excess credit notes, bank transfers and outstanding amounts left in accounts of the companies controlled by some conspirators from South lobby.
The CBI has alleged a cartel was formed between three components of the said policy -- liquor manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers -- by violating provisions and against the spirit of the policy and all the conspirators played active roles to achieve illegal objectives of the said criminal conspiracy and it resulted in huge losses to the exchequer and undue pecuniary benefits to the public servants and other accused involved in the conspiracy, the court had noted.