A Special PMLA Court in Raipur extended the custody of Anwar Dhebar, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with an alleged liquor scam to the tune of around Rs 2000 crore, on Wednesday.
Anwar Dhebar was today produced in the court of 4th Additional District and Sessions Judge (Special Judge, PMLA) Ajay Singh Rajput and it extended his ED custody for five days, said the Dhebar’s counsel Rahul Tyagi, adding that Dhebar will be produced in the court on May 15.
Notably, Anwar Dhebar was arrested on May 6 and produced before the court from where he was sent to four days of ED custody.
Speaking to media persons, Tyagi said, “The court has directed the investigating agency that the accused should not be harassed in any way. The court has also directed the agency to preserve audio and video recording (of the interrogation) so that it can be ascertained that any kind of ill-treatment or harassment was given to the Dhebar”.
In a release issued by the ED after the arrest of Anwar Dhebar, it said that the agency had conducted searches at multiple locations in March and has recorded the statements of various persons involved in the process and collected evidence of unprecedented corruption and money laundering to the tune of Rs 2000 crore between 2019 and 2022.
PMLA investigation revealed that an organised crime syndicate led by Anwar Dhebar was operating in Chhattisgarh, alleged the agency.
“Commission of Rs 75-150 per case (depending on the type of liquor) was fastidiously charged by the syndicate from the suppliers for each accounted cash procured by CSMCL. Anwar Dhebar in conspiracy with the others started getting manufacturing unaccounted country-made kacha off-the-books liquor and selling the same through government-run shops. This way they could keep the entire sale proceeds without depositing even 1 Rupee in the State Exchequer,” a statement earlier issued by ED stated.
The agency further alleged, “Duplicate holograms were provided. Duplicate bottles were procured in cash. Liquor was transported directly from the distiller to shops by passing the state warehouses. Manpower was trained to sell unaccounted liquor. The entire sale was done in cash. The entire sale was off the books and sale consideration was siphoned off with everyone in the illegal chain getting its share including – the distiller, transporter, hologram maker, bottle maker, excise official, higher echelons of the excise department, Anwar Dhebar, senior IAS Officer(s) and politicians”.
ED investigation has revealed that in the years 2019-2022, this kind of illegal sale was almost 30-40 per cent of the total sale of liquor in the state, elaborating that this generated Rs 1200 – Rs 1500 crore illegal profits.
Commission from FL-10A License Holders was also charged from Foreign Liquor suppliers, alleged the ED statement, adding that these licenses were given to the associates of Anwar Dhebar.
The statement further alleged that it is estimated that in total Rs 2000 crore was generated by the syndicate in a short span from 2019 to 2022. Anwar Dhebar is responsible for the collection of this entire illegal money but is not the ultimate beneficiary of this scam. It is established that after deducting a percentage, he had passed on the remaining amounts to his political masters.
Revenue from liquor (Excise Duty) is one of the highest contributors to state kitty. Excise Departments are mandated to regulate the supply of liquor, ensure quality liquor to users to prevent hooch tragedies and earn revenue for the State. But investigation revealed that a criminal syndicate led by Anwar Dhebar has turned upside down all these objectives.
In Chhattisgarh, the state controls all the aspects of the liquor trade from procurement to retail sale to the consumer. No private liquor shops are allowed. All 800 liquor shops are run by the state. Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited (CSMCL) centrally procures all the liquor sold in Chhattisgarh. CSMCL issues tenders for-Manpower suppliers who run the shops, cash collection tenders, select bottle makers and hologram makers.
As per the agency, with the support of the political executives, Anwar Dhebar managed to get a pliant Commissioner and MD of CSMCL and hired close associates like Vikas Agarwal alias Subbu and Arvind Singh to make the system completely subservient to him.
The accused controlled the entire chain of the liquor trade starting from – Private Distillers, FL-10A License Holders, Senior Officers of the Excise Dept, District level Excise Officers, Man-power suppliers, Glass Bottle makers, Hologram Makers, Cash – Collection vendors etc and leveraged it to extort maximum amount of bribes/commission. Various other stakeholders also illegally benefited in the process, ED further stated.
According to the Enforcement Directorate, it had earlier conducted search operations at 35 locations across Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Delhi including the residential premises of Anwar Dhebar. However, he slipped out of a secret trap door and did not participate in the search.
Dhebar was summoned on 7 occasions but did not join the investigation. He was continuously using benami SIM Cards, and Internet dongles, changing locations and after sustained surveillance was zeroed in on the Hotel room of his close associate. There also, instead of accepting the summons, he again tried to run away from the back door but was caught while escaping by an alert team of ED. He was duly arrested and produced before the PMLA Special Judge of Raipur, who has remanded him to 4 days of ED Custody, the agency added.
This report is filed by ANI news service.