The now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 was brought in by the Aam Aadmi Party leadership, specifically former excise minister Manish Sisodia, to 'continuously generate and channel illegal funds' to themselves, the Enforcement Directorate said in its latest chargesheet in this money laundering case.
The federal probe agency also charged Sisodia, the former deputy chief minister of Delhi, of receiving 'bribes' from an accused involved in the case, and dubbed these as 'proceeds of crime' under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
'As elaborated...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,' the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said in its prosecution complaint filed early this month.
'This amount is directly a bribe or 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,' it said.
Amit Arora is the promoter of liquor companies Buddy Retail Pvt Ltd, Popular Spirits and KSJM Spirits LLP, while Dinesh Arora has been alleged to be a close associate of Sisodia.
A Delhi court took cognisance of this fifth chargesheet (first naming Sisodia as accused) on Tuesday and issued a production warrant against the 51-year-old for June 1, saying there was enough prima facie evidence.
Sisodia was arrested by the ED on March 9 from Tihar Jail, where he was lodged as the CBI has arrested him in the same case.
The chargesheet further said Sisodia 'acquired this proceeds of crime (of Rs 2.2 crore) and is involved in the concealment of the same'.
It said the excise policy was 'drafted with an intention to cause undue benefit to certain private entities or players' and was formed with 'deliberate loopholes to facilitate illegal and criminal activities'.
The ED also charged Sisodia with being involved in the 'destruction of digital evidence to impede the investigation and to erase evidence'.
It said the AAP leader 'used/changed/destroyed 14 mobile phones/IMEIs during the period of scam including the period after registration of the predicate offence (CBI FIR)'.
The agency said its probe found that 43 SIMs were used on these 14 mobile phones, of which, only five SIMs were either owned by Sisodia in his statements (recorded with the ED) or were issued in his name.
It quoted Sisodia's statement recorded during the investigation where he said 'the phone which was used before the phone seized by CBI was broken and is not with me now....I do not remember where the damaged phone is now'.
'It is amply clear from these facts that the said mobile phone used by Manish Sisodia during the scam period was destroyed and is not available for forensic analysis,' the ED said.
The agency also alleged that Sisodia 'deliberately got a draft cabinet note changed to exclude the three legal expert opinions which could have caused hindrance to his ulterior motive of changing the then excise policy and bringing a new policy as per their agenda/interests which was planned in conspiracy with the South Group'.
The ED has arrested a total of 12 people in this case till now, including Sisodia. It undertook 191 searches in this case till May 4, when the latest chargesheet was filed.
It is alleged by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that the Delhi government's excise policy for 2021-22 to grant licences to liquor traders allowed cartelisation and favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge strongly refuted by the AAP.
The policy was subsequently scrapped and the Delhi lieutenant governor recommended a CBI probe, following which the ED registered a case under the PMLA.