ED says ‘kickbacks’ used in AAP Goa poll campaign also detected in I-T, CBI probes

Excise ‘scam’
NEW DELHI, Mar 31: The money trail of the alleged Rs 45 crore kickbacks generated from the Delhi excise policy “scam” and used for the 2022 Goa election campaign by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), as claimed by the Enforcement Directorate, has also been “substantiated” by the CBI and the Income-Tax department in their separate investigations, according to documents filed in court.
A wide network of Hawala operators and ‘Angadiyas’ are also being investigated by the ED in this case where it recently arrested Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and claimed he and his political outfit are liable to be prosecuted in the alleged laundering of these funds.
Statements of five ‘Angadiya’ firm operators have also been recorded by the ED to establish the “money trail” of this alleged Rs 45 crore bribe amount.
‘Angadiyas’ are informal courier and bank services like Hawala which are especially used by diamond and jewellery sector businesses to transfer big cash amounts and other valuables by skirting the KYC-based formal banking route in order to avoid government taxes and duties.
Former Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s MLC daughter K Kavitha, former Delhi deputy CM and AAP leader Manish Sisodia and AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh are among the 16 prominent persons arrested in this case by the agency.
The AAP and its leaders have repeatedly denied the charges of wrongdoing, with Kejriwal alleging that the case was concocted by the BJP-led Centre to create a “smokescreen” to project AAP as a corrupt party.
The party has alleged that statements of other people involved in the case like TDP Lok Sabha candidate Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy, his son Raghav Magunta and businessman and Aurobindo Pharma promoter Sarath Reddy were changed to implicate Kejriwal and stop his participation in the upcoming general elections.
The amount of Rs 45 crore – “proceeds of crime” under the anti-money laundering law – is claimed by the ED to be part of the total Rs 100 crore bribe amount given by the ‘South Group’ of politicians and liquor businessmen to AAP and its leaders for entering the Delhi liquor market in a prime position. The ED has claimed that Rs 45 crore was pumped by the AAP for its Goa election campaign.
According to the details of the investigation shared by the ED with a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court here, Aam Aadmi Party engaged a company called Chariot Productions Media Pvt. Ltd. For its election campaign in Goa during 2021-22.
“On examination of the vendors of Chariot Productions engaged for outdoor campaigns, it was found that many of the vendors were made ‘part cash part bill’ payments…,” the agency claimed in its court papers.
It also said that an employee of one such vendor company has recorded his statement with the ED saying he was given Rs 6.29 lakh payment “via Hawala” from an ‘Angadiya’ operator in Mumbai.
The agency recorded the statement of an employee of the said ‘Angadiya’ operator, R Kantilal, where it was found that the Income-Tax department had raided their Goa office in January 2022 and all their documents, notes, chits, and slips were seized by the taxman during these searches.
The ED approached the tax department and retrieved the data of this ‘Angadiya’ firm and its analysis “shows that about Rs 45 crore has been transferred through Hawala to Goa”.
“This Hawala trail of about Rs 45 crore was also investigated and substantiated by the predicate agency CBI and the same were duly mentioned by CBI in its second supplementary chargesheet filed before a special court on 08.07.2023,” the ED said.
The ED filed its money laundering case to probe alleged irregularities in the Delhi excise policy of 2021-22 on August 22, 2022, taking cognisance of a CBI FIR that was lodged on August 17, 2022.
The agency has charged the AAP, the ruling party of Delhi, of “committing the offence of money laundering through Arvind Kejriwal”, the party’s national convenor and chief minister of Delhi. (PTI)