According to people familiar with the development, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) detained Sameer Mahendru on Wednesday as part of its money laundering investigation into Delhi’s excise policy 2021–22. Mahendru is the managing director of liquor distributor Indospirit Group, which is based in Jor Bagh.
In the excise policy fraud, which also includes Manish Sisodia, the deputy chief minister of Delhi, Mahendru is mentioned as a main defendant.
The businessman allegedly made two payments: one crore to Dinesh Arora, a close associate of Sisodia, and somewhere between two and four crores to Gurugram-based purported conduit Arjun Pandey on behalf of Vijay Nair, another suspect. On Tuesday night, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) detained Nair.
The now-scrapped liquor policy is under investigation by the ED and the CBI for suspected cartelization that reportedly benefited some significant liquor wholesalers/distributors and retailers while disqualifying the smaller vendors from the tendering process.
Mahendru’s Indospirit received an L-1 wholesale licence under the excise policy, and investigations are ongoing to determine whether the company also created partnerships with other businesses to get retail licences in violation of the policy’s requirements.
According to the CBI’s first information report (FIR) filed on August 17, Mahendru is accused of making two payments: one crore to Radha Industries, a business run by Sisodia ally Dinesh Arora, and another cash transfer of 2-4 crore to Arjun Pandey, who is headquartered in Gurugram.
It’s interesting to note that Mahendru was a key CBI witness in a 2008 corruption case involving two DSIIDC (Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd) officials who were accused of engaging in corrupt practises and receiving illegal remuneration in cash and kind from various distributors and distillers of alcohol in exchange for placing supply orders and promoting their alcohol brands.