India

Chhattisgarh liquor scandal yielded more than 2,000 crore rupees; the syndicate included politicians and officials: ED

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is investigating the alleged liquor scam in Chhattisgarh, has filed a prosecution complaint with the special PMLA court, alleging that a criminal syndicate consisting of senior government officials, politicians, and some individuals generated and pocketed approximately Rs 2,161 crore that should have gone to the state exchequer.

ED counsel Saurabh Pandey confirmed the development to Deccan Era.

Anwar Dhebar (51), brother of Congress-affiliated Raipur mayor Aijaz Dhebar; Arunpati Tripathi (55), an Indian Telecom Services official; businessman Trilok Dhillon (59); and their aides Nitesh Purohit (51) and Arvind Singh (48) are named as the defendants in the Tuesday complaint submitted by the prosecution.

Dhebar’s attorney, Faizal Rizvi, stated, “My client was falsely implicated in the crime. My client purchased the property affixed by ED long before the fraud occurred.”

Rizvi, also an attorney for Dhillon, stated, “The ED seized Rs 52 lakh from his possession, but according to his Income Tax Returns certificate, my client had Rs 97 lakh with him. Therefore, he is not concealing anything.”

According to the agency, the alleged corruption in the Excise department began in 2019 and lasted until 2022. It was alleged that Dhebar and a retired IAS officer, who has not yet been named as an accused, commanded the syndicate.

ED said the duo altered the state’s alcohol policy and extorted benefits. Although the Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited (CSMCL) was established in February 2017 to regulate the sale and quality of alcoholic beverages, the complaint alleges that the syndicate established a parallel Excise department.

The ED stated that in February 2019, the syndicate allegedly selected Arunpati Tripathi to head the CSMCL. In May, he was appointed as the company’s managing director at the behest of Dhebar.

According to the ED’s criminal complaint, senior IAS officers supported Tripathi. It was alleged that CSMCL procured liquor only from those who paid a commission of Rs 75 per case of country liquor, and in exchange, Dhebar promised to increase their lending rates β€” the price CSMCL paid to manufacturers.

According to the agency, Vikas Agarwal, a Dhebar aide, was responsible for the parallel system’s cash collection and personnel supply, while Arvind Singh oversaw its logistics.

According to the criminal complaint, Dhebar allegedly collected these commissions from manufacturers, and a substantial portion of them went to the ruling political party.

It stated that in the scheme’s first year, 200 trucks carrying 800 cases of country liquor were sold each month, increasing to 400 trucks in 2022-23. Dhebar and the retired IAS officer retained 15% of the illegally earned money, while the remaining 75% was distributed to politicians in accordance with directives from the state’s highest political executives.”

Three of Dhebar’s associates purportedly paid him a commission in exchange for licences to sell foreign liquor. According to the agency, this syndicate unlawfully generated Rs 2,161 crore that should have gone to the state treasury.

The ED claims that the proceeds of crime were converted into bank funds and disguised as unsecured loans with the assistance of certified public accountants and then used to purchase benami properties. According to the complaint, it was also used to renovate a hotel and acquire a steel facility.

The ED has provisionally affixed Rs 124 billion thus far.

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