The Enforcement Directorate on Friday launched fresh raids in connection with its money laundering investigation into alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy, official sources said.
The searches are being carried out at about 35 locations in Delhi, Punjab and some places in Hyderabad, they said.
Some liquor distributors, companies and linked entities are being searched after the agency obtained some new leads in the case during questioning of various accused, the sources said.
The federal agency has conducted more than 103 raids in this case till now and had also arrested Sameer Mahandru, a liquor businessman and managing director of liquor manufacturing company Indospirit, last month in the case.
The money laundering case stems from a Central Bureau of Investigation first information report (FIR) that had named Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia as an accused among others.
The scheme came under the scanner after the Delhi LG recommended a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in the implementation of Delhi's Excise Policy 2021-22. He had also suspended 11 excise officials in the matter.
The ED has questioned Aam Aadmi Party MLA Durgesh Pathak and minister Satyendar Jain, lodged in Tihar Jail, in this case while the CBI has also questioned a number of people and arrested businessman Vijay Nair.
The CBI inquiry was recommended on the findings of the Delhi chief secretary's report filed in July showing prima facie violations of the GNCTD Act 1991, Transaction of Business Rules (ToBR)-1993, Delhi Excise Act-2009, and Delhi Excise Rules-2010, officials said.
According to officials, the chief secretary's report had shown prima facie violations, including 'deliberate and gross procedural lapses', to provide post-tender 'undue benefits to liquor licensees' through the policy.
It is alleged that undue financial favours were extended to liquor licensees after the tenders were awarded, causing loss to the exchequer.
The excise department gave a waiver of Rs 144.36 crore to the licensees on the tendered licence fee citing COVID-19, sources had claimed.
They added that it also refunded the earnest money of Rs 30 crore to the lowest bidder for the licence of the airport zone when it failed to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from airport authorities.
"It was in gross violation of rule 48(11)(b) of the Delhi Excise Rules, 2010, which clearly stipulates that the successful bidder must complete all formalities for the grant of the licence, failing which all deposits made by him shall stand forfeited to the government," a source had said.
The Excise Policy 2021-22, formulated on the basis of an expert committee report, was implemented on November 17 last year and retail licences were issued under it to private bidders for 849 vends across the city, divided into 32 zones.