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Delhi excise policy case: BRS leader Kavitha to be questioned today as ED probes 'South Group'

Likely to be confronted with Arun Pillai, an alleged frontman of the group

PTI03_02_2023_000284A RS MLC K Kavitha addresses a press meet, in Hyderabad | PTI

Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader K. Kavitha will appear before the Enforcement Directorate in Delhi on Saturday, in connection with a money laundering case linked to the Delhi liquor policy scam. Kavitha, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao's daughter, has said she will cooperate with the agency as she has “nothing to hide”.

This comes a day after a court sent AAP leader and former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia to ED custody till March 17. Sisodia was arrested by the CBI for alleged corruption in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy case. The ED had sought Sisodia's custody to probe his modus operandi and confront him with other accused. In its charge-sheet, the ED alleged that Sisodia used or changed or destroyed multiple phones to hide evidence of the dealings

The South Group

It is alleged that the policy to grant licences to liquor traders allowed cartelisation and favoured certain dealers, who had allegedly paid bribes for it. The federal agency is probing Kavitha's links to what they refer to as the 'South Group'. The 'South Group', according to the agency, comprises Sarath Reddy (promoter of Aurobindo Pharma), Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy (YSR Congress MP from Ongole Lok Sabha seat), Kavitha and others.

Extending the probe outside the national capital, the ED arrested Hyderabad-based businessman Arun Ramchandran Pillai, an alleged frontman of the South Group on Monday. During the interrogation, Kavitha will be confronted with Pillai, according to reports. The ED also alleged in Pillai's remand papers that he "represented the benami investments" of Kavitha in this case. In February, the CBI arrested Hyderabad-based chartered accountant Butchibabu Gorantla who earlier worked for Kavitha.

The ED is probing how the South Group members were going to partner with L1 licence holders with 65 per cent shareholding, and how six per cent payment was to be allegedly made to the Delhi government. Investigators alleged the excise policy was formulated with 12 per cent profit margin for L1 wholesalers. Out of this, six per cent profit was earmarked as kickbacks to be given to the AAP, claimed the ED.

According to ED charge-sheet, Kavitha allegedly had indirect stake in Indo Spirits, a Delhi-based liquor wholesaler, whose owner Sameer Mahandru is also an accused in the case. The 'South Group' allegedly had about 65 per cent stake in Indo Spirits, through proxies.

Telangana CM KCR hit out at the BJP on Friday, and said that the saffron party was harassing BRS leaders because it “could not digest” BRS's progress in the state. Kavitha's brother and state minister K T Rama Rao has also arrived in Delhi ahead of Kavitha's appearance before the ED.


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