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ED links top execs of two Hyderabad firms to Rs 100 crore bribe in Delhi liquor policy case

In the Delhi sales policy case in which Manish Sisodia is the main accused two top executives in Hyderabad have been arrested (Pic. Courtesy ANI)

Bribes to the tune Rs 100 crore were paid in the Delhi liquor sales policy case and arrested two top executives of private companies in Hyderabad in connection with the case.

The two arrested were Benoy Babu, general manager in India of global liquor giant Pernod Ricard that produces brands such as Chivas Regal, and P Sarath Chandra Reddy, whole-time director and promoter of Aurobindo Pharma.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is the main accused in the case.

The investigative agency also alleged several VIPs, including Mr Sisodia, changed as many as 140 mobile phones to destroy digital evidence.

The two executives were produced before a special court in Delhi, and it sent them to seven days in custody of the Enforcement Directorate, officials said.

In a note to the stock exchange, Aurobindo Pharma Limited said that Reddy is “not in any way connected with the operations of the company or its subsidiaries”.

Besides these two, the Enforcement Directorate had arrested Sameer Mahandru, managing director of liquor manufacturing company Indospirit, in September.

Officers in the agency claimed to have found that Reddy controlled five retail zones, while the rule capped the number at two. Through his network, he controlled almost 30 per cent of the liquor sales in Delhi, they said.

The agency told the court that Reddy collected nearly Rs 100 crore for bribes that were paid to political leaders and officers for favours.

Officials alleged that both the arrested executives were “evasive” during the questioning.

The two were allegedly involved in the drafting of the Delhi excise policy along with government officials and also had a role in the cartelisation of the entire network, officials alleged.

The Enforcement Directorate claimed to have recovered a draft of the policy from one of the executives when the premises were searched earlier.

The agency also claimed to have found that investments worth ₹ 200 crore in the retail liquor business were made by an entity in violation of the policy directives.

It also informed the court during remand proceedings that the policy was “leaked” to certain liquor manufacturers much before its release.

The Enforcement Directorate’s money laundering case stems from a CBI FIR that had named Manish Sisodia as an accused among others.

The excise scheme came under the scanner after the Delhi Lieutenant Governor recommended a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in the implementation of the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22. The Lt Governor had also suspended 11 excise officials.

However, the AAP leadership has denied the charges.