PERNOD RICARD EXECUTIVE ARRESTED IN DELHI LIQUOR EXCISE POLICY CASE
By Siulan Law Mathews DipWSET
Source: Pernod Ricard India
An executive of Pernod Ricard India and a director of a pharmaceutical company have been arrested by India’s federal financial crime agency in connection with the investigations into the alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped liquor excise policy of the Delhi city government.
Benoy Babu, international brands general manager of Pernod Ricard India, and P. Sarath Chandra Reddy, a director of Aurobindo Pharma Ltd, were arrested today under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The two appeared in court today and were sent to custody for a week.
Pernod Ricard did not immediately respond to the news of Babu’s arrest, while Aurobindo Pharma said Reddy's arrest is not connected with the operations of the company or its subsidiaries.
Quoting investigation sources, India media reported that Reddy was instrumental in the cartelisation of licences and played a role in moving alleged kickbacks in the entire liquor licensing process.
The sources also added that Babu was part of the cartel. “Of the 31 licenses, Babu gave away 29 licences to retailers. We have also found the draft of Delhi liquor policy in his email. Liquor licences were given out to a select few deliberately.”
Meanwhile, Manoj Rai, former assistant vice president of Pernod Ricard India, has earlier been named as an accused person in a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) document on the case.
The Delhi city government introduced sweeping changes to privatise its liquor retail system in November last year, with government-run shops replaced by private shops run by licence holders.
At its peak, the number of private shops had gone up to 650, but about half of them handed their licences back in June and July this year. The city government scrapped the new policy and returned to government vending in September.
Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a probe by the CBI into alleged irregularities and procedural lapses in the implementation of the new policy.
Among the accused in a CBI document are Delhi deputy chief minister, Manish Sisodia, and three other Delhi excise officials along with several senior executives of liquor companies including former Pernod Ricard senior executive Manoj Rai.
The first arrest took place in September when Sameer Mahandru, managing director of liquor manufacturing company Indospirit, was arrested.
Investigators have also raided the premises of Manish Sisodia while 11 Delhi excise officials have so far been suspended.
(the writer can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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