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Chhattisgarh IAS Officer 'Kingpin' Of Illegal Liquor Trade: Probe Agency

The ED said there was a massive liquor trade scam in Chhattisgarh by a syndicate.

Raipur:

The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Anil Tuteja was the “kingpin” of an illegal liquor syndicate in Chhattisgarh along with liquor businessman Anwar Dhebar and the corruption money was also used for electioneering.

The ED said its investigation also revealed that from 2019 to 2022, the sale of “unaccounted illicit” liquor was almost 30-40 per cent of the total liquor sale in the state.

In its application filed in a special court in Raipur on Saturday seeking remand of liquor businessman Anwar Dhebar, the ED said there was a massive liquor trade scam in Chhattisgarh by a syndicate comprising high-level state government officials, private persons and political executives that generated corruption money of more than Rs 2,000 crore.

Anwar is the elder brother of Congress leader and Raipur Mayor Aijaz Dhebar. Tuteja, a 2003 batch IAS officer, is currently posted as the joint secretary in state’s industry and commerce department.

The ED arrested Anwar Dhebar on Saturday. The special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court subsequently sent him in four-day custody of the ED.

The agency filed a case last year against Tuteja and others to investigate the matter under the PMLA on the basis of prosecution complaint (charge sheet) filed by the Income Tax Department in a Delhi court against Tuteja and others, it said.

A criminal syndicate was operating in Chhattisgarh which was making illegal bribe collections by controlling the high-level management of key state departments, particularly the excise department (that deals in liquor), and state public sector undertakings (PSUs), the ED claimed.

“The syndicate comprised of high-level state government officials, private persons and political executives of the state government. Tuteja was managing the affairs and was the kingpin of this illegal syndicate along with Anwar,” it alleged.

“Huge amount of corruption was happening in the excise department and hundreds of crores of cash was being collected from every possible point of access in a distributed hierarchical manner. The syndicate, after keeping its cut, passed on the final loot for the benefit of political executives and for electioneering…,” it said.

Anwar was the main collection agent and front man of this syndicate. There is specific digital evidence depicting delivery of Rs 14.41 crore by Anwar to Tuteja, the ED claimed.

The agency’s application said the syndicate collected illegal money in three different ways from the sale of liquor in Chhattisgarh.

These included illegal commission charged from liquor suppliers for accounted its sale in the state, sale of off-the-record unaccounted country liquor (popular in Chhattisgarh) from state run shops and annual commission paid to allow distillers to operate in the state, it said.

The excise policy in the state was amended in 2017 and the Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited (CSMCL) was thus created with the responsibility to retail liquor in the state through its stores.

In May 2019, Arunpati Tripathi was made the CSMCL’s managing director at the behest of Anwar, the ED said.

Tripathi was then assigned with the task to maximise the bribe commission collected on liquor procured by CSMCL, and to make necessary arrangement for sale of non-duty paid liquor in the corporation-run shops. Tripathi was supported by Anwar and senior IAS officers in this operation, it claimed.

The agency’s investigation has established that in order to decide the quantum of commission on the sale of country liquor, a meeting was called in 2019 by Anwar wherein distillers were demanded to pay Rs 75 per case commission against its procurement by CSMCL. In return, Anwar promised to raise their “landing rates” proportionately. the ED said. This system was agreed upon and the syndicate started collecting huge amount of commission on the sale of accounted liquor cases. Majority of the collected amount was given to Anwar and he shared majority of it with a political party, it said.

“A more sinister scheme was made to manufacture and sell unaccounted illicit liquor. Unaccounted liquor was sold from state run shops. Duplicate holograms and bottles were used. Liquor was transported directly from distiller to shops bypassing state warehouses. Excise officials were involved. The entire sale was done in cash,” the ED claimed.

“No income tax and no excise duty, etc were paid. The entire sale was off the books. The entire sale consideration was siphoned off with each person getting its share including distiller, transporter, hologram maker, bottle maker, excise official, higher echelons of excise department, Anwar Dhebar, senior IAS officer(s) and politicians,” it said.

The ED’s investigation has revealed that from 2019 to 2022, this kind of illegal sale was almost 30-40 per cent of the total sale of the liquor in the state, it claimed.

After paying the distillers and local excise officers, Anwar took the maximum remaining amount and after deducting share of 15 per cent meant for himself and Tuteja, he used to supply the remaining to politicians as per the directions from the highest political executives of the state, the ED alleged.

“It is clear that massive corruption has occurred in the excise department of Chhattisgarh since 2019…The ED investigation has established that more than Rs 2,000 crore of corruption money has been generated by this syndicate,” it claimed.

Anwar is not the ultimate beneficiary of all the proceeds of crime generated in this case. He is only a private person who is not holding any position in the government and just using his proximity to the mayor of Raipur and the ruling political party (Congress), it said.

The ED claimed Anwar has planted his associate Vikas Agrawal in Dubai and all the illegally earned proceeds of crime have been invested in the UAE in order to alienate the same.

Anwar’s counsel Rahul Tyagi on Saturday claimed the action against his client seemed to be politically motivated.

 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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