NEW DELHI: Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K Kavitha deposed before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for nine hours on Saturday in connection with a money laundering case linked to alleged irregularities in the Delhi excise policy, officials said.
The 44-year-old daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao left the federal agency's headquarters around 8 pm after nine hours of questioning and recording of her statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), they said.
The officials said the BRS leader has been summoned again on March 16 in connection with the case.
Kavitha had the headquarters of the Directorate on Saturday around 11.15 am to answer questions regarding her alleged role in the manipulation of Liquor policy to benefit liquor traders, including her and the laundering of kickbacks generated following the tweaks in the policy.
There was a heavy presence of Delhi Police and central paramilitary forces personnel for barricading the ED office even as the supporters of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader staged a protest.
The BRS leader had skipped the March 9 summon, when the ED had called her for questioning, citing her commitments to a political rally at Jantar Mantar seeking the introduction and passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill, by the ruling BJP-led government at the centre.
The questioning of Kavitha coincides with the arrest of Delhi ex-Deputy CM Manish Sisodia and Hyderabad-based businessman Arun R Pillar – currently in ED custody, who according to the agency are deeply involved in tweaking the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 through a planned conspiracy to benefit liquor traders of the South Group of which Kavitha was part and siphoning the kickbacks out of the system.
BRS MLC and Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao's daughter, K Kavitha leaves for the ED office. (Photo | Shekar Yadav, EPS)
The policy which was allegedly tweaked and implemented by Sisodia as the Delhi excise minister led to huge profits for a liquor group referred to as South Group and resulted in revenue losses to the tune of around 2973 crores to the Delhi Government. The Excise policy allegedly violated all provisions which were provided to safeguard the interest of the Delhi government and provide a fair opportunity to licensees and stakeholders the ED alleged.
Seeking the ex-Deputy CM’s remand, the ED on Friday said Sisodia conspired with others to frame a faulty excise policy in order to generate kickbacks and proceeds of crime to the tune of more than Rs 290 crore. The ED claimed that to tweak the policy to allow windfall gains to liquor traders - violating multiple provisions of the Excise Policy to safeguard the Delhi exchequer’s interest - the AAM party through its media manager Vijay Nair had received Rs 100 crore "kickbacks" as advance from the 'South Group'. A special court remanded Sisodia to ED custody till March 17.
About Pillai, the ED alleged that the Hyderabad-based businessman who was the representative of the South Group was allegedly involved in the tweaking of the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 at the formulation stage - by collaborating with Vijay Nair - and was one of the beneficiaries of kickback money which he laundered subsequently. He is currently being interrogated in ED custody as the agency secured his remand till March 13.
According to the ED, Pillai was the 32.5 per cent owner of a front in which Kavitha had a substantial stake. He was the representative of the 'South Group' of liquor traders and was a direct beneficiary of the kickback money and was also involved in laundering it.
The liquor traders of the South Group include prominent persons and politicians including Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, his son Raghav Magunta, Sharath Reddy of Aurobindo Pharma and Kavitha herself.
Pillai, ED alleged, received the kickback money amounting to several crores due to which the agency has already attached several movable and immovable properties of Pillai and his wife in Hyderabad and other places worth Rs. 5.72 crore as part of its action to recover the government money which was allegedly generated as kickback and laundered in the Delhi Excise scam. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)