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ED Arrests YSRCP MP's Son Magunta Raghava Reddy In Delhi Excise Policy Scam Case

Raghava Reddy will be produced in Delhi's Rouse Avenue Court by noon, as per sources

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Enforcement Directorate

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday arrested the son of Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party's (YSRCP) MP, Magunta Raghava Reddy, in connection with the Delhi excise policy scam case.

The ED officials confirmed the arrest of Magunta Raghava Reddy who is the son of Andhra Pradesh MP Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy for his alleged role in the formulation of the excise policy and in kickbacks. Earlier Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also questioned Raghava Reddy and asked whether the liquor cartel paid bribes to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government functionaries in Delhi through a middleman.

It was alleged that the Magunta family was running one of the liquor cartels in Delhi and has been in the liquor business for the last several years.

According to the ED sources, Raghava Reddy will be produced in Delhi's Rouse Avenue Court by noon.

The Rouse Avenue Court on Wednesday sent Businessman Gautam Malhotra, son of former Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Deep Malhotra, and Telangana CM's daughter K Kavitha's auditor to ED, CBI remand respectively in the Delhi excise policy case.

Hyderabad-based chartered accountant (CA), Butchibabu Gorantla, also said to be the auditor of Bharat Rashtra Samiti MLC K Kavitha, was sent for three days CBI remand in the liquor scam.

According to the CBI, during the course of further investigation, his (Butchibabu Gorantla) role has surfaced in the criminal conspiracy with other co-accused persons, in the formulation of favourable liquor policy and deriving undue benefits out of the same.

During further investigation, the scrutiny of WhatsApp chats recovered from the seized mobile phones of Butchibabu Gorantla has revealed certain incriminating facts about the formulation and implementation of the Delhi Excise Policy.

"He (Butchibabu) has remained in regular touch with FIR-named accused persons and other suspects during the relevant period. He has also attended various meetings with co-accused/suspects persons in Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai, where the criminal conspiracies have been hatched among them," CBI said.

The ED and the CBI had, last year, alleged that irregularities were committed while modifying the Excise Policy, undue favours were extended to licence holders, the licence fee was waived or reduced and the L-1 licence was extended without the competent authority's approval. The beneficiaries diverted "illegal" gains to the accused officials and made false entries in their books of account to evade detection.

As alleged, the Excise Department had decided to refund the Earnest Money Deposit of about Rs 30 crore to a successful tenderer against the set rules. Even though there was no enabling provision, a waiver on tendered licence fees was allowed from December 28, 2021, to January 27, 2022, due to COVID-19, which allegedly caused a loss of Rs 144.36 crore to the exchequer, which has been instituted on a reference from the Union Home Ministry following a recommendation from Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena.

Apart from Magunta Raghava Reddy, a total of seven persons have been arrested by the ED in this case till now. The agency filed its chargesheet last year before a court in the national capital in the said case naming liquor businessman Sameer Mahendru as one of the accused.

Following Mahendru's arrest, the ED raided nearly three dozen locations in Delhi and Punjab in October 2022.

The agency said it has so far undertaken nearly 200 search operations in this case after filing FIR after taking cognisance of a CBI case which was registered on the recommendation of the Delhi lieutenant governor.

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 had said.

On Friday, the federal agency arrested the owner of Chariot Production Media Pvt Ltd, Rajesh Joshi, who was later sent to the ED's custody till Monday by the Rouse Avenue Court in Delhi.

Joshi was arrested by the agency sleuths from the national capital following questioning and evidence against him showing his involvement in the case.

According to the Enforcement Directorate, Joshi was one of the beneficiaries of kickback money that originated out of the 'tweaked' policy which favoured 'liquor lobbies'.

He allegedly laundered and distributed money and also spent huge amounts of money received on behalf of the Aam Aadmi Party for the campaign during the elections in Goa.

This is the second arrest by the ED in the case in the last two days, as on Tuesday, the agency arrested Punjab-based businessman Gautam Malhotra, who is also the son of former Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA Deep Malhotra and the Director of liquor manufacturing and distribution from OASIS group.

In October last year, the ED also raided the properties of Gautam and his father in Punjab. The younger son of Deep Malhotra, Gautam is said to manage the markets of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, apart from running the OASIS group's distilleries in Ambala and Indore.

As per sources, Gautam is an associate of Amit Arora, Director of Buddy Retail Pvt Ltd, who was arrested by the ED in November last year in the alleged Delhi Excise Policy scam.

Another arrest in the case was made by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), who arrested a Hyderabad-based chartered accountant, understood to be the auditor of Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) MLC K Kavitha.

Other accused named in the case are Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the then Excise Commissioner Arva Gopi Krishna, Deputy Commissioner Anand Tiwari and Assistant Commissioner Pankaj Bhatnagar.

Manoj Rai, a former employee of Pernod Ricard; Amandeep Dhal, director of Brindco Sales; authorised signatories of Mahadev Liquors Sunny Marwah, Arun Ramchandra Pillai and Arjun Pandey are some more accused in the case. (ANI)

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