Second arrest in 24 hours, ED nabs businessman Sameer Mahendru

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The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday morning arrested liquor businessman Sameer Mahendru in connection with its money laundering investigation into alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy.

Mahendru, the managing director of a company called Indospirits, was taken into custody under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after he was put through a night-long questioning session.

The ED action comes a day after the CBI arrested businessman Vijay Nair in this case in which Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is also an accused. Nair is AAP’s communications chief and also believed to be a close aide of Sisodia. 

The CBI FIR has alleged that Arjun Pandey, an associate of Sisodia, had once collected about Rs 2-4 crore in cash from liquor businessman Sameer Mahendru on behalf of Nair, former CEO of Only Much Louder (OML), an entertainment and event management company.

“Source further revealed that Arun Ramchandra Pillai used to collect undue pecuniary advantage from Sameer Mahendru of IndoSpirit for onward transmission to the accused public servants through Nair,” it claimed.

The CBI in its FIR has alleged that “close associates” of Sisodia — Amit Arora, Director of Buddy Retail Pvt. Limited based in Gurgaon, Dinesh Arora and Arjun Pandey — were “actively involved in managing and diverting the undue pecuniary advantage collected from liquor licensees” for the accused public servants.

The CBI has invoked IPC section related to criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act in its FIR filed against 15 entities.

Nair, a well-known name in entertainment circuit, had started OML as a management company for Indie bands but gradually shifted focus towards comedy scenes with noted some noted standup artists, comedy collectives and live music shows.

Nair’s leadership at OML came under controversy including #MeToo allegation which was strongly denied by him.

It drew criticism of promoting a culture of sexism at Only Much Louder which was denied by the company in a detailed rebuttal.

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