ED arrests AAP MP Sanjay Singh in Delhi Excise policy money laundering case; sparks political slugfest : The Tribune India

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ED arrests AAP MP Sanjay Singh in Delhi Excise policy money laundering case; sparks political slugfest

Third top leader of AAP nabbed by a central agency in a year | Kejriwal calls arrest ‘completely illegal’; BJP claims Delhi CM a ‘sinner’ and the ‘kingpin’ of alleged liquor scam


New Delhi, October 4

Senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh, a Rajya Sabha MP, was on Wednesday arrested by the Enforcement Directorate here in connection with its money laundering probe linked to the 2021-22 Delhi Excise policy case, in a jolt to Delhi’s ruling party after its third top leader was held by a central agency in over a year.

AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh being arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the Delhi excise policy case, in New Delhi, on Wednesday, October 4, 2023. Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

The arrest of 51-year-old Singh, who became the second high profile leader of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to be nabbed in the case relating to the now scrapped Excise policy after former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, sparked a political slugfest between the Arvind Kejriwal-led party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Delhi minister Satyendar Jain was arrested by the ED on May 30, 2022 in a separate money laundering case.

After a daylong questioning, Singh was placed under arrest under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED officials swooped on his official residence in North Avenue early this morning and conducted searches.

Singh is expected to be produced before a local court in Delhi on Thursday where the ED will seek his custodial interrogation.

The searches and subsequent arrest of Singh comes a day after a Delhi court had allowed Raghav Magunta, son of YSR Congress Party Lok Sabha MP Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, and Delhi-based businessman Dinesh Arora to turn approver in the money laundering case connected to the alleged Delhi excise policy scam.

Several members of the opposition bloc INDIA rallied behind Singh, with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar saying the arrest will further strengthen the new alliance that was formed to take on the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called the arrest “completely illegal” and alleged it was a desperate measure by the BJP.

“The arrest of Sanjay Singh is completely illegal. This shows (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi ji’s nervousness. They will arrest many more opposition leaders until the elections,” the AAP national convener said in a post on X.

In a video message recorded before his arrest, Singh said the ED was forcibly arresting him without any evidence.

“I accept dying but not bowing down. I exposed Adani’s scams and filed multiple complaints with ED but no action was taken against Adani. Modi ji is losing the 2024 elections badly. They cannot win by committing atrocities and putting people in jail.

“I had earlier also spoken against Adani’s scams, I will continue to do so in future as well. We are (Arvind) Kejriwal’s soldiers and will not back down in the face of atrocities,” Singh said in the message released to the media. The AAP is also in power in Punjab.

While RJD leader Manoj Jha slammed the Centre saying it is trying to distract people from the results of the Bihar caste survey, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti alleged that central agencies are being misused and weaponised at the behest of the BJP.

The BJP on its part mounted a blistering attack on Kejriwal, accusing him of being the “kingpin” of the alleged liquor policy scam and said “handcuffs” are not far away.

During a press conference at the BJP headquarters, party national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia claimed Kejriwal was a “sinner” and the “kingpin” of the alleged liquor scam and accused Singh of being involved in the case as the AAP chief’s “left hand”.

“His right hand Manish Sisodia has been languishing in jail for the past several months. Both the left hand and the right hand of Kejriwal are involved in corruption. It’s Kejriwal who forces his MPs and ministers to commit corruption to fill his coffers,” Bhatia charged.

“Handcuffs are getting closer to Arvind Kejriwal… I dare Kejriwal to hold a press conference and clarify if he has not received a bribe of Rs 32 lakh by cheque from (Dinesh) Arora.” The ED, which is the anti-money laundering agency, had arrested Arora in July, when he was already declared an approver in a related corruption case being probed by the CBI.

Arora was arrested after he allegedly gave evasive replies during his questioning by the ED and was not cooperating with the investigation.

The businessman was allegedly a close associate of Manish Sisodia, who is also an accused in the excise policy case and has been arrested by the ED as well as the CBI.

The ED, in a supplementary charge sheet, has accused Sisodia of receiving bribes from Amit Arora, another businessman and an accused in the case, through Dinesh Arora. The federal probe agency has described this bribe as “proceeds of crime” under the PMLA.

“Amit Arora paid Rs 2.2 crore to Manish Sisodia through Dinesh Arora for getting policy changes in his favour in the GoM report/excise policy 2021-22... This amount is directly a bribe/kickback to a government functionary and is proceeds of crime under section 2(1)(u) of PMLA, 2002. In this manner, Manish Sisodia participated in the generation of this proceeds of crime,” the ED alleged in its prosecution complaint filed in May.

The ED and the CBI have alleged the Delhi government’s excise policy for 2021-22 allowed cartelisation and favoured certain dealers who paid bribes for licences. The AAP has strongly refuted the charge.

The excise policy was scrapped after Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena recommended a CBI probe into alleged corruption.

AAP spokesperson Reena Gupta alleged that the ED has “targeted” Singh as he raised issues related to the Adani group in Parliament.

“Sanjay Singh kept on raising questions on the issue of Adani and this is why the raids are being conducted at his residence. The Central agencies found nothing earlier and won’t find anything today either. First, they conducted raids at the residence of some journalists yesterday and today, raids conducted at Sanjay Singh’s residence,” Gupta said. 

#BJP #Enforcement Directorate #Rajya Sabha

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