The Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday arrested the commercial head and production controller of India Ahead News channel, Arvind Kumar Singh, in connection with the Delhi liquor policy case, reported PTI.

According to the central agency, Singh played a role in transferring Rs 17 crore through hawala channels to a company handling the Aam Aadmi Party’s publicity campaign during the 2022 Goa Assembly elections.

The India Ahead News executive transferred the money between June 2021 and January 2022 to Chariot Media, which was handling an outdoor advertisement campaign for the Goa elections for the Arvind Kejriwal-led party, the Central Bureau of Investigation alleged. The agency made the allegation based on WhatsApp chats and records of hawala operators.

On February 8, the Enforcement Directorate, which is investigating the money laundering aspect of the case, had arrested the owner of Chariot Media, Rajesh Joshi, reported The Indian Express. On May 6, a special court in Delhi had granted him bail.

The court had noted that evidence produced by the Enforcement Directorate showed that Chariot Media had made payments to vendors for poll-related work of the party but there was nothing to suggest that the payments were related to alleged kickbacks paid to co-accused Vijay Nair or his associates.

The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that a “South Group” paid at least Rs 100 crore in kickbacks to leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party through Nair. The central agency also said that the “South Group had secured uninhibited access, attained stakes in established wholesale businesses and multiple retail zones [over and above what was allowed in the policy]”.

The case

The Central Bureau of Investigation alleged that the Delhi government’s excise policy, which came into effect in November 2021, favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it. Under the policy, licences of 849 liquor shops were issued to private firms through open bidding. Earlier, four government corporations ran 475 liquor stores and the remaining 389 were private shops.

However, the policy was withdrawn by the Aam Aadmi Party-led government on July 30 after Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a CBI inquiry, alleging irregularities in the policy’s formulation and implementation.