New Delhi: A land parcel worth over Rs 21 crore allegedly acquired by Anwar Dhebar, the elder brother of Congress leader and Raipur Mayor Aijaz Dhebra, has been found in fresh searches by the ED in connection with the Chhattisgarh liquor syndicate scam case. The federal probe agency in a statement on Monday also alleged that former Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited (CSMCL) Managing Director Arun Pati Tripathi “corrupted the entire liquor system of Chhattisgarh at the insistence of Anwar Dhebar.”
Tripathi, an Indian Telecom Service (ITS) officer, was the fourth person arrested in the case by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) last week. He also held the charge of special secretary in the state excise department.
Anwar Dhebar, hotel businessman Nitesh Purohit and liquor trader Trilok Singh Dhillon have been taken into custody by the agency as part of its investigation. The four are currently in judicial custody.
In the statement, the ED said the latest round of searches in Raipur and Bhilai in Chhattisgarh and Mumbai, resulted “in the discovery of a 53-acre land in Naya Raipur (having a book value of Rs 21.60 crore) acquired by Anwar Dhebar by using proceeds of crime in the name of a JV (joint venture)”.
“This property was purchased through a maze of transactions in the name of an associate by routing proceeds of crime acquired from FL-10A licensee,” the agency alleged. On the alleged link between Anwar Dhebar and Tripathi, the agency claimed that the former CSMCL MD “through his direct actions at the insistence of Anwar Dhebar, corrupted the entire liquor system of Chhattisgarh to maximize corruption in the department”.
“He made policy changes in conspiracy with his other colleagues and gave tenders to associates of Anwar Dhebar so that maximum benefits could be availed under PART-A, PART-B, PART-C, and FL10A heads,” it alleged.
Despite being a senior officer, he “went against” the ethos of the functioning of the state excise department and used state-run shops to sell unaccounted ‘kacha’ (country) liquor, the agency said. “His (Tripathi’s) complicit actions resulted in massive loss to the state exchequer and filled the pockets of the beneficiaries of the liquor syndicate with more than Rs 2,000 crore illegal proceeds of crime,” the ED said.
Tripathi, the agency claimed, also received a “substantial share in this loot”. Thus, the very objective of the CSMCL to increase the state’s revenue and provide quality-controlled liquor to citizens was violated by him (Tripathi) for his personal illegal gains, it alleged. The agency had earlier said that “corruption” was done in four ways as part of this illegal liquor syndicate.
Part-A pertains to “commission” and a bribe was collected from distillers per case of liquor procured from them by the CSMCL, the ED alleged. It said Part-B pertains to the sale of “unaccounted” ‘kacha’ liquor. Not even a single rupee reached the state exchequer and all the sale proceeds were pocketed by the syndicate and “illegal” liquor was sold from state-run shops only, the ED claimed.
Under Part-C of the scam, “bribes” were taken from distillers to allow them to form a cartel and have a fixed market share, the agency alleged. The ED said during the recent searches, it also seized Rs 20 lakh in cash, and “unaccounted” investments worth about Rs 1 crore with a share trading firm in the name of Arvind Singh (an alleged accused in the case) and (his wife Pinki Singh. This money laundering case stems from a 2022 Income-Tax department charge sheet filed against IAS officer Tuteja and others before a court in Delhi.