NEW DELHI, Feb 23 (PTI): The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday questioned Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s personal assistant Bibhav Kumar as part of its ongoing investigation into a money laundering case linked to alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy, officials said.
Kumar deposed before the federal probe agency here and the investigators are recording his statement under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the officials said.
His questioning is understood to be related to the ED’s charges made before the court that at least 36 accused, including Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Bibhav Kumar, “destroyed, used or changed” 170 phones to conceal evidence of “kickbacks” worth thousands of crores of rupees in the alleged scam.
The IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) of Bibhav’s mobile number is stated to have been changed four times between September 2021 to July 2022 as per the ED chargesheet filed before a local court.
The agency is expected to question Kumar about the meetings that were held during process of the formulation of the excise policy 2021-22, which has now been scrapped, and his role at these discussions and his attendance there alone and along with his boss Kejriwal.
The ED has named the Delhi CM in the second chargesheet claiming that C Arvind, a DANICS officer who was earlier secretary to Sisodia, said in his statement recorded under the PMLA that he was given the GoM report on the excise policy in the middle of March, 2021 when he was called by his boss (Sisodia) to the residence of Kejriwal.
It had also alleged that AAP communications in-charge Vijay Nair, arrested in this case by the ED and the CBI earlier, “arranged a video call through facetime (a video calling facility on iPhone) on his phone for Sameer (Mahandru) and Sh Arvind Kejriwal, where Sh Arvind said to Sh Sameer that, Vijay is his boy and that Sh Sameer should trust him and carry on with him.”
Sameer Mahandru is a Delhi-based liquor businessman and the epromoter and Managing Director (MD) of wine company Indospirit Group. He too was arrested in the case.
Kejriwal had rubbished the contents of the ED complaint saying it has “filed 5,000 chargesheets under the tenure of the current government.”
“How many people have been sentenced? All the cases filed by ED are fake and they are used to topple governments or form them. ED does not file cases to eradicate corruption. They do it to buy MLAs, topple governments. There is a question on the ED chargesheet,” Kejriwal had said.
It was alleged by the ED that a part of the purported Rs 100 crore “kickbacks” generated in the Delhi excise policy was used in the AAP campaign in the 2022 Goa assembly election. It had said a “cartel” of chosen business groups was formed leading to generation of illicit funds that were laundered.
“Investigation by ED found that acts of corruption and conspiracy in the formulation and implementation of Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 led to the loss of at least Rs 2,873 crore to the government exchequer,” it had said.
The ED, till now, has filed two charge sheets or prosecution complaints in this case and has arrested a total of nine people.
The excise policy was scrapped in August last year and the Delhi LG later asked the CBI to probe the alleged irregularities and corruption done by government authorities, bureaucrats and liquor traders and others.
The ED’s money laundering stems from the CBI FIR.