ED arrests two in Chhattisgarh liquor 'scam'-linked money laundering case

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday said it has arrested two liquor businessmen in connection with its money laundering probe into an alleged excise scam of Chhattisgarh that is estimated to have generated over Rs 2,100 crore of slush funds. Arvind Singh and Trilok Singh Dhillon were arrested on July 1 at the central jail in Raipur and later a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court sent them to ED custody till July 6, the federal probe agency said in a statement.

The two were lodged in jail after the Chhattisgarh Police's Economic Offences Wing (EOW) arrested them in the case sometime back. The money laundering case of the ED stemmed from an EOW/ACB FIR filed in January and had named 70 individuals and companies, including former excise minister Kawasi Lakhma, former chief secretary Vivek Dhand and others.
The alleged scam, where the ED has pegged the proceeds of crime at Rs 2,161 crore, purportedly took place between 2019-2022 when the Congress was in power in the state. Former IAS officer Anil Tuteja as well as some other bureaucrats and politicians have been arrested in this case by the ED.
The federal probe agency claimed that liquor businessman Trilok Singh Dhillon was a "prime beneficiary" of the proceeds of crime through a "classic" mode of money laundering. "He has willingly and knowingly allowed his bank accounts and firms to be used for layering large amounts of proceeds of crime. Without any reasonable explanation, he has taken funds through banking channels from the FL-10A license holders falsely showing those as unsecured loans and kept those as fixed deposits.
"He has also taken kickbacks from major country liquor suppliers in the guise of business transactions and kept the money with him. The underlying business transactions shown have been found to be completely bogus," the ED said.
It also claimed that the other arrested liquor businessman, Arvind Singh, played an "active" role in the Chhattisgarh liquor syndicate and was the right-hand man of Anwar Dhebar (the elder brother of Raipur Mayor and Congress leader Aijaz Dhebar).
Singh was responsible for supplying duplicate holograms, collecting cash and supplying liquor bottles without a bill to the distillers through his associates, the agency alleged. For his role, Singh also acquired substantial proceeds of crime, the ED claimed, adding that he also received a share out of unaccounted liquor sales. Assets worth about Rs 205 crore of various accused have been attached by the agency as part of this investigation till now.

( Source : PTI )
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