AAP used hawala, cash route to funnel liquor policy kickbacks for Goa polls: ED

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate has accused the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of “using” a part of the Rs 100 crore kickbacks allegedly received from the ‘south group’ liquor lobby to meet its expenditure for the Goa Assembly poll campaign in 2022.

The accusation has been made in the agency’s supplementary charge sheet filed in the Delhi Excise policy linked money laundering case.

It has arraigned as accused a media publicity company, Chariot Productions Media Pvt. Ltd., and its owner-promoter Rajesh Joshi in the prosecution complaint. A Delhi court took cognisance of this charge sheet on Monday.

“A careful perusal of findings of investigation has revealed that several persons, including Rajesh Joshi and his company Chariot Productions Media Pvt Ltd, are actually involved in several processes/activities connected with a part of proceeds of crime ie. the kickbacks of Rs 100 crore received from the South Group,” the ED alleged.

“Chariot Productions Media Pvt Ltd is not only involved in making payments through banking channel but also in cash through hawala network… and the actual beneficiary of these payments is AAP as these payments were used for meeting expenditure of Goa Elections in year 2022,” it alleged.

It said the money laundering investigation launched by it in this case last year under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) found that “a part of proceeds of crime of Rs 30 crore were transferred through hawala network to make payments to vendors for advertisement in Goa election campaign of AAP.”

“The payment was made both through banking channel as well as through cash,” the ED said.

It added, as part of the charge sheet filed in this case last month before a local court, “a part of money trail of proceeds of crime of Rs 80 lakh (approx) is traced back to advertisement vendors and survey for AAP during Goa elections.”

“All these transactions are inter-connected which represent the utilisation of proceeds of crime of Rs 100 crore through various multiple processes and activities which are interconnected for the reason that ultimately all the money was used by the leaders of AAP, including ministers and their associates in AAP government who were the architect of this liquor scam,” it alleged.

The AAP has repeatedly denied these allegations.

The agency, like in an earlier charge sheet, again mentioned the name of AAP leader and MP Raghav Chadha as part of a statement recorded of former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s secretary C Arvind.

Chadha has not been named as an accused in the charge sheet.

“…that at Dy CM’s (Sisodia’s) residence there was a meeting of Raghav Chaddha, ACS Finance of Punjab Govt, Excise Commissioner, Sh Varun Roojam, FCT and officers from Punjab Excise where Vijay Nair was also present,” the ED said.

In a statement, Chadha said he has not been named as an accused in a complaint filed by the ED and that news reports in this context are “factually wrong, incorrect and appear to be part of a malicious propaganda to harm my reputation and credibility.”

“I have not been named as an accused or even a suspect in any of the complaints filed by the Enforcement Directorate. There are no allegations whatsoever against me in the said complaints. It appears that in the complaint my name is mentioned as an attendee to some meeting though the basis of making such an allegation is not clear. I vehemently and unequivocally deny commission of any alleged offence in any manner, in relation to the said meeting or otherwise,” he said.

Nair, the communications in-charge for the AAP, was arrested by the ED in this case apart from Joshi.

The ‘south group’ liquor lobby is allegedly linked to Telangana CM K Chandrashekhar Rao’s MLC daughter K Kavitha and YSR Congress MP from Ongole Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, his son Raghav Magunta and others.

The ED also said that Kavitha held “multiple meetings” with Nair prior and post the policy was drafted and came in effect.

“Similarly, Magunta Sriniavasulu Reddy also held meetings with the CM of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal wherein Kejriwal welcomed his entry into the Delhi liquor business,” the ED said.

A total of 12 people have been arrested by the ED in this case till now including Sisodia, who is in judicial custody at present.

The agency also mentioned the statements given to it by Buchi Babu, an accountant allegedly linked to Kavitha, who told the ED that the ‘south group’ “kickbacks are related to the Delhi excise policy and the top leaders of AAP such as Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia (minister concerned) as revealed by Buchi Babu and Arun Pillai.”

“They (Buchi Babu and Arun Pillai) have revealed that Vijay Nair was working with the support and sanction of Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia for all his excise
policy related activities including formulation as well as implementation,” it said.

It is alleged 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.