New Delhi: BRS leader K Kavitha deposed before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for nine hours Saturday for recording her statement in connection with a money laundering case linked to alleged irregularities in the Delhi excise policy.
The officials said the BRS leader has been summoned again March 16 in connection with the case.
The 44-year-old daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao left the federal agency’s headquarters on APJ Abdul Kalam Road around 8 pm amid a heavy presence of her supporters.
She had reached the ED office from her father’s official residence on Tughlak Road, located about 1.5 kilometres away, around 11 am.
Official sources said during the nine hours she spent at the ED office, she was 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 a few others involved in the case.
Kavitha’s statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), they said.
Pillai, an alleged frontman of the “south group”, was arrested by the ED earlier this week. Pillai, meanwhile, has moved a city court accusing the ED of forging his statements in this matter.
There was a heavy presence of Delhi Police and central paramilitary forces personnel for barricading the ED office as the supporters of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader staged a protest, during both Kavitha’s entry and exit from the ED office.
Kavitha recently asserted during a press conference here 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 is in ED custody effectively till March 12 (to be produced before a court again on March 13) and the agency had earlier said he “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 the 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.
The BRS leader was earlier questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the case.
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 Butchi Babu, a chartered accountant allegedly linked to Kavitha, where he said “there was political understanding between K Kavitha and the 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. Butchi Babu has been arrested by the CBI.
According to Butchi Babu’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.