New Delhi/Raipur: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday raided over three dozen places in opposition ruled states of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh in connection with its money laundering probe related to the liquor scam, people familiar with the development said.
Among those being searched include Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel’s political advisor Vinod Verma, officials said. In Jharkhand, at least 34 places were being raided including the premises of Rohit Oroan, son of Jharkhand finance minister Rameshwar Oroan.
HT had first reported in July that the ED will expand its Chhattisgarh liquor scam probe to Jharkhand as the persons suspected to be involved (in Chhattisgrah) had decided to replicate the same corruption model in Ranchi as well, but it was abruptly stopped after the agency launched a probe.
Premises belonging to two Baghel’s OSDs (officers on special duty) Manish Banchhor and Ashish Verma were also searched by the ED officials. Baghel’s aide, Vijay Bhatia, is under ED’s scanner as well and his premises were also searched by the agency.
Reacting to ED raid on his political advisor, Baghel tweeted – “Thanks Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and home minister (Amit Shah) for the precious gift you have given me by raiding my political advisor on my birthday”.
According to the ED allegations, ₹776 crores commission out of total ₹2,161 crores collected in the Chhattisgarh liquor scam by Anwar Dhebar, prime accused and brother of Raipur mayor Aijaz Dhebar, went to “political executives”.
The financial crimes probe agency has so far chargesheeted Dhebar, Arunpati Tripathi, former managing director of Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited (CSMCL), liquor businessman Trilok Singh Dhillon, hotelier Nitesh Purohit and Dhebar’s aide, Arvind Singh, in the case.
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“The accused persons had collected commissions/bribes in three different ways, defined as Part A (bribes collected from distillers per case of liquor procured from them by CSMCL), Part-B (sale of unaccounted kaccha off the books country liquor) and Part-C (bribes taken from distillers to allow them to form a cartel and have fixed market share). A fourth method used to collect bribes was from FL-10A (foreign liquor) licence holders. While ₹496 crore was collected in Part-A, ₹1173 crore in Part-B, ₹280 in Part-C, ₹211 crore were collected from FL-10A holders,” the ED chargesheet, filed in July, said.
“The Part-A and Part-C commission were entirely handled by Anwar Dhebar who transferred the entire collection to the political executives of the State (Chhattisgarh). Thus, an amount of (over) ₹776 crore in the form of Part-A and Part-C collection went to these political executives through Anwar Dhebar and Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Anil Tuteja,” the ED chargesheet, seen by HT, said.
The agency has said Dhebar has not disclosed names of the beneficiaries of the amount ₹776 crores.
The agency has alleged Dhebar moved ₹80-100 crore in cash in Delhi and Mumbai through hawala and paid “large amounts of cash as per the ruling party in the state for electioneering.”
On Dhebar’s plans to replicate the same corruption model in Jharkhand, the ED chargesheet said that “following the grand success of his conspiracy in Chhattisgarh, he decided to implement the Chhattisgarh model of Part-A and Part-B (collection) in Jharkhand too and successfully ran it for 3-4 months till it was abruptly ended due to ED action”.
“The distillers, FL-10 (A) licensees (foreign liquor), manpower suppliers of Chhattisgarh in their respective statements have admitted to these facts and stated that they were coerced by Anwar Dhebar and his associates to work in Jharkhand also,” the document said.
Separately, the agency has also made an important arrest in election-bound Madhya Pradesh in another probe.
A banker, identified as Nitin Bhatnagar, was taken into custody on Tuesday under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) for allegedly facilitating the opening an account with Bank of Singapore in 2012 for a company allegedly linked to Ratul Puri, nephew of Congress leader in Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath.
This bank account was allegedly used for covering the proceeds in the Moser Baer case, which is under investigation by the ED.
Both ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), are probing Moser Baer Solar Ltd (MBSL) in connection for cheating a consortium of banks led by Punjab National Bank (PNB) of ₹787 crore.