Delhi excise policy: BRS leader Kavitha appears before ED for questioning in money laundering case
Kavitha skipped the deposition last week citing her pending plea before the Supreme Court for relief against the ED action in the case
BRS leader K Kavitha on Monday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) here for the second round of questioning in the Delhi excise policy linked money laundering case, officials said.
Dressed in a green saree, Kavitha entered the ED headquarters in central Delhi around 10:30 AM.
The 44-year-old MLC daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao was first questioned in the case on March 11 following which she was summoned again on March 16.
Kavitha, however, skipped the deposition last week citing her pending plea before the Supreme Court for relief against the ED action in the case.
The federal probe agency rejected her claims and asked her to depose on March 20. The apex court has decided to hear her petition on March 24.
During the nine hours she spent at the ED office on March 11, Kavitha is 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 Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader's statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Pillai will also be produced before the court on Monday as his ED custody expires.
Kavitha could be physically confronted with Pillai and her former auditor Butchibabu Gorantla during Monday's session.
The BRS 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" in Telangana.
Pillai, the ED had said, "represented the South Group", an alleged liquor cartel linked to Kavitha and others that paid kickbacks amounting to about Rs 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 Pillai's remand papers that he "represented the benami investments" of Kavitha in the case.
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 Kavitha, where he said "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".
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, 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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