Kejriwal slams ED for running ‘fake news’ over attaching Rs 52 cr assets of Manish Sisodia

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday accused the BJP-led Centre of defaming AAP leader Manish Sisodia by running “fake news” of the Enforcement Directorate attaching assets worth Rs 52 crore belonging to the jailed leader in the Delhi excise policy case.

He said the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has, in fact, attached properties worth Rs 80 lakh of Sisodia and his wife. The ED on Friday said it has attached two immovable assets of Sisodia and his wife apart from bank deposits worth Rs 11.49 lakh of the ex-deputy chief minister in the Delhi excise policy-linked money laundering case.

Taking to Twitter, Kejriwal said in Hindi, “Prime Minister, when you did not find anything against Manish Sisodia, you started defaming him through ED. Your ED is running fake news on TV channels saying that Rs 52 crore worth assets of Manish Sisodia have been attached.”

Kejriwal, who is also the AAP national convener, clarified that in reality, Rs 80 lakh worth of assets have been attached. These properties belong to pre-2018 period when the excise policy was not even framed, he said.

He also said that these assets have already been declared.

“People would not have thought that a day would come that the prime minister of a great country like India would try to eliminate his political rivals by lying openly. Who is the actual corrupt, you also know. If you have guts, you should catch them,” he said.

The probe agency has issued a provisional order under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to attach assets worth Rs 52.24 crore of the Sisodia couple and some other accused being probed in this case.

Two immovable properties of Manish Sisodia and his wife Seema Sisodia and a land/flat of arrested accused Rajesh Joshi — the director of Chariot Productions Media Pvt Ltd — have been attached, the ED said. It also attached a land/flat of Gautam Malhotra, a Punjab-based liquor businessman and son of former SAD MLA Deep Malhotra.

Gautam Malhotra was arrested by the ED in the case earlier.

Movable assets worth Rs 44.29 crore were also attached as part of the same order. These included Manish Sisodia’s bank balances worth Rs 11.49 lakh apart from Rs 16.45 crore worth of deposits of a company Brindco Sales Pvt. Ltd. and others, the agency said in a statement.

Brindco Sales Pvt. Ltd. is a company of liquor businessman Amandeep Singh Dhall who was also arrested in this case by the ED.

Sisodia, 51, was arrested by the agency in this case in March and is currently in judicial custody.

This is the second attachment in this case after the ED a few months ago attached properties worth Rs 76.54 crore of other accused such as Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) communications in-charge Vijay Nair, liquor businessman and promoter of Indospirits company Sameer Mahandru, promoter of liquor company Buddy Retail Pvt Ltd. Amit Arora, Hyderabad-based businessman Arun Pillai and others.

The ED had said in its chargesheet filed before a local court a few months ago that the Delhi excise policy 2021-22 was brought in by the AAP leadership, specifically by Manish Sisodia, to “continuously generate and channel illegal funds” to themselves.

It is alleged by the ED and the CBI that the policy 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.