The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday arrested businessman Sameer Mahendru, one of the prime accused in Delhi’s Excise scam case involving Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. Yesterday, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had arrested Mahendru’s aide Vijay Nair in connection with the same scam.
Mahendru happens to be the ED’s first arrest in the matter. Earlier, the ED had raided his house in Jor Bagh area of New Delhi along with forensic and technical teams.
A day after the CBI arrested Vijay Nair in connection with the alleged corruption in Delhi’s liquor policy, AAP chief and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, while addressing the media here, said: “They arrested Vijay Nair yesterday. I fail to understand why they have arrested him. He is just a small party worker. He handles communication for us. Earlier, he handled the communication work in Punjab and we formed the government there. Now, he is handling the communication strategy in Gujarat. He was handling social media outreach in Gujarat.”
The Delhi Chief Minister alleged that Nair was forced to take the name of Deputy CM Manish Sisodia. “Over the past few days, he was being called for questioning every day. He was being pressured to name Manish Sisodia, and threatened with arrest if he did not name him. Earlier, they raided Manish Sisodia, examined the locker and found nothing. They are trying to crush the AAP,” Kejriwal alleged.
The government’s first duty should be to liberate the people from inflation and unemployment, but the government is not interested in solving the problems being faced by the common man, said Kejriwal.
“People from across the country are suffering because of price rise and inflation. Everything is expensive. There is joblessness and businesses are shutting down. At a time like this, it is the biggest job of any government to find solutions. But they don’t care. They only want to indulge in dirty politics. They are only looking for ways to finish AAP, to crush Kejriwal and the AAP,” he said.
He said further that Sisodia too can be arrested in the next one week. But it will not have any impact on the AAP workers. “If they can arrest a small party worker like Nair, they can arrest anyone. Today I appeal to all AAP workers across the county to be ready for arrest,” the Chief Minister said.
Mahendru was once a prosecution witness in a bribery case lodged by the CBI against two DSIIDC officials Sushanta Mukherjee and Amrik Singh, who were convicted on the basis of his testimonies in 2013. And now it is the same CBI unit which has lodged a case against him.
It has been alleged that Mahendru transferred around Rs 1 crore in the account of Radha Industries, which is reportedly owned by Dinesh Arora, a close aide of Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
Mahendru, on behalf of Vijay Nair, the former CEO of Only Much Louder, an entertainment and event management firm, an accused in the CBI’s FIR, allegedly paid around Rs 2 to Rs 4 crore to Arjun Pandey, another associate of Sisodia.
There are allegations that Arun Ramchandra Pillai, resident of Kokapet in Hyderabad, used to collect undue pecuniary advantage from Mahendru for onward transmission to accused public servant Vijay Nair.
The ED is now collecting the documentary and digital evidence to nail the money trail in money laundering. The ED is trying to make a water tight case by trying to unearth the layering of laundered money.
Meanwhile, Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court today sent Vijay Nair, a businessman and close aide of Sisodia, to five days’ CBI custody in Delhi’s excise policy scam.
He was arrested last night by the CBI. Nair was the first person to be arrested in the excise scam.
The CBI told the court that his custodial interrogation was necessary. Senior lawyer Rebecca John, who was appearing for Nair, opposed the CBI move, saying her client had joined the investigation and was cooperating.
The court after hearing the argument of both the sides sent Nair to five days’ CBI custody.
Nair, the former CEO of Only Much Louder, had gone to London. He returned to join the probe and was placed under arrest.
The CBI has alleged that Nair was actively involved in irregularities in the framing and implementation of the excise policy of the GNCTD of Delhi for the year 2021-22.
Nair was reportedly a volunteer of Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party and he allegedly helped party leaders by organising events and also handled their social media accounts.