The ED on Wednesday morning arrested liquor businessman Sameer Mahendru in connection with its money laundering investigation into alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy, official sources said. Mahendru is the managing director of a company called Indospirits.
Sources said he was taken into custody under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after he was put through a night-long questioning session. He is expected to be produced before a local court where the Enforcement Directorate (ED) will seek his further remand.
The ED action comes a day after the CBI arrested businessman Vijay Nair in this case in which Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is also an accused. The ED money laundering case is based on a CBI FIR and both the federal agencies have undertaken multiple search operations in this case till now.
The CBI FIR has alleged that Arjun Pandey, an alleged associate of Sisodia, had once collected about Rs 2-4 crore in cash from Mahendru on behalf of Nair, former CEO of Only Much Louder, an entertainment and event management company.
Earlier, the CBI on Tuesday arrested AAP leader and businessman Vijay Nair in connection with the Delhi Excise Policy scam case in which Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is also an accused, officials said.
Nair, who was abroad for quite some time, was called for questioning at the CBI headquarters on Tuesday, they said. Sources said Nair was arrested for his alleged role in “cartelisation” and “conspiracy” related to alleged irregularities in the allocation of liquor licenses in the national capital.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) condemned the arrest of its communication in-charge Nair and alleged that it was part of the BJP’s “ongoing attempt” to crush the AAP and obstruct its campaign in Gujarat where assembly polls are due to be held this year.
The CBI FIR has alleged that Arjun Pandey, an associate of Sisodia, had once collected about Rs 2-4 crore in cash from liquor businessman Sameer Mahendru on behalf of Nair, former CEO of Only Much Louder (OML), an entertainment and event management company.
“Source further revealed that Arun Ramchandra Pillai used to collect undue pecuniary advantage from Sameer Mahendru of IndoSpirit for onward transmission to the accused public servants through Nair,” it claimed.
The CBI in its FIR has alleged that “close associates” of Sisodia — Amit Arora, Director of Buddy Retail Pvt. Limited based in Gurgaon, Dinesh Arora and Arjun Pandey — were “actively involved in managing and diverting the undue pecuniary advantage collected from liquor licensees” for the accused public servants.
The CBI has invoked IPC section related to criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act in its FIR filed against 15 entities. Nair, a well-known name in entertainment circuit, had started OML as a management company for Indie bands but gradually shifted focus towards comedy scenes with noted some noted standup artists, comedy collectives and live music shows.
Nair’s leadership at OML came under controversy including #MeToo allegation which was strongly denied by him. It drew criticism of promoting a culture of sexism at Only Much Louder which was denied by the company in a detailed rebuttal.