The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a corruption case against an assistant director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) over the alleged pay-off of ₹5 crore to him by liquor businessman Aman Dhall in connection with the Delhi excise policy 2021-22, officers aware of the case said.
Apart from Pawan Khatri, CBI has also named Dhall, director of Brindco Sales Pvt Ltd, and Dhall’s father Birender Pal Singh. Also named are Claridges Hotels chief executive officer (CEO) Vikramaditya, ED upper division clerk Nitesh Kohar, Air India employee Deepak Sangwan, and chartered accountant Praveen Kumar Vats, who acted as facilitators, according to CBI.
Officers said Khatri was not part of the ED probe team investigating alleged irregularities in the excise policy.
HT has seen a copy of the CBI first information report (FIR).
Officers said ED raided Khatri and the other accused in July, recovering a bribe amount of over ₹2 crore. After a detailed inquiry, ED referred the matter to CBI earlier this month, which registered a corruption case in the matter on August 25.
ED had arrested Dhall in connection with alleged irregularities in the excise policy on March 1. According to CBI’s FIR, “Sangwan… had assured Vats that he can arrange help for Dhall in ED’s liquor scam case (by protecting him from arrest) in lieu of some amount of money. Sangwan introduced him to Khatri in December 2022. On the basis of assurance of Sangwan, Vats had taken ₹3 crore from Dhall in six tranches of ₹50 lakh each in December 2022-January 2023”. The FIR said, thereafter, ₹2 crore was taken in four tranches.
Two days after Dhall was arrested by ED, CBI said Vats met Sangwan at the Priya Complex in Delhi. “Sangwan told Vats that the instructions regarding the arrest of Aman Dhall came from higher authorities and he doesn’t have influence with them,” the FIR said. Later, in June, discussions took place where the issue of returning the bribe money was taken up. Khatri and Kohar were present in these meetings, and on June 29, ₹1 crore was returned to Dhall’s father.
On Vikramaditya’s role, the ED complaint says that Dhall approached him, after which he asked Vats to help him.
Officers said ED recovered CCTV footage of the meetings between the accused. In addition, it recovered ₹2.19 crore cash of the bribe money from the residence of Vats and also found excise policy probe related documents from the premises of Sangwan. The Delhi 2021-22 excise policy aimed to replace a sales-volume based regime with a licence fee-based one for traders. The policy also introduced discounts and offers on the purchase of liquor, a first for Delhi.