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Delhi Excise policy | BRS leader Kavitha appears before ED for third time

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BRS MLC K. Kavitha leaves from the residence of her father, Telangana CM K. Chandrashekar Rao, for the ED office, after being summoned in connection with the Delhi Excise policy case on Tuesday, March 21, 2023.
| Photo Credit: PTI

BRS leader K. Kavitha appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 21 for questioning in the Delhi Excise policy linked money laundering case.

The 44-year-old MLC daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao reached the ED office at 11:30 am.

This is the third deposition of Kavitha before the federal probe agency. She has spent around 18-19 hours at the ED headquarters in central Delhi during her two appearances on March 11 and March 20.

The Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader exited the agency office around 9:15 pm on Monday after she was questioned and her statement was recorded as investigators, as per sources, put across around a dozen questions to her.

Ms. Kavitha is also understood to have been confronted with the statements made by Hyderabad-based businessman Arun Ramchandran Pillai, an arrested accused in the case who allegedly shares close ties with her, apart from those of few others involved in the case.

The politician has asserted that she had done nothing wrong and alleged that the BJP-led Centre was “using” the ED as the saffron party could not gain a “backdoor entry” into Telangana.

ALSO READ | BRS leader Kavitha skips ED summons in Delhi Excise Policy case

Mr. Pillai, the ED had said, “represented the South Group”, an alleged liquor cartel linked to Ms. Kavitha and others, that paid kickbacks amounting to about ₹100 crore to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to gain a larger share of the market in the national capital under the now-scrapped Delhi Excise policy for 2020-21.

The “South Group”, according to the ED, comprises Sarath Reddy (promoter of Aurobindo Pharma), Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy (YSR Congress MP from Ongole Lok Sabha seat in Andhra Pradesh), his son Raghav Magunta, Kavitha and others.

The ED also alleged in Mr. Pillai’s remand papers that he “represented the benami investments” of Ms. Kavitha in the case.

Ms. Kavitha has earlier been questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the case at her residence in Hyderabad.

The ED has so far arrested 12 people in the case, including former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and AAP leader Manish Sisodia.

It has also recorded the statement of Butchibabu, an accountant allegedly linked to Ms. Kavitha, in which he said that “there was political understanding between K. Kavitha and Chief Minister (Arvind Kejriwal) and the deputy chief minister (Sisodia). In that process, K Kavitha also met Vijay Nair on March 19-20, 2021”.

Mr. Nair was arrested in the case by both the ED and the CBI. Butchibabu has been arrested by the CBI and has been questioned recently again by the ED.

According to Butchibabu’s statement, Mr. Nair was “trying to impress Kavitha with what he could do in the (Excise) policy”.

“Vijay Nair was acting on behalf of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia,” the statement recorded by the ED read.

It is alleged that the Delhi Government’s Excise policy for 2021-22 to grant licences to liquor traders allowed cartelisation and favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge strongly refuted by the AAP.

The policy was subsequently scrapped and the Delhi Lieutenant Governor recommended a CBI probe, following which the ED registered a case under the PMLA.

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