Nair, who is a known name in AAP circles, was called to the CBI headquarters on Tuesday and arrested after questioning. Sources said he was arrested for allegedly hatching a criminal conspiracy and playing a role in “cartelisation” and “chosen licensing”.
Nair was abroad at the time of registration of the FIR, fuelling rumours that he had fled the country. He had later issued a statement clarifying that he would appear before the CBI whenever required. He claimed to have spoken to a CBI official present at his house over the phone when the agency raided his Mumbai house during a multi-city swoop, which also comprised searches at the office and residence of Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia. The agency had seized Sisodia’s laptop and mobile phone.
Excise probe: CBI looking into Nair’s link with 3 others
The CBI on Tuesday arrested Vijay Nair, former CEO of an event management company and named as accused number 5 in the FIR registered by the agency in the excise policy case. Nair, sources claimed, had emerged as a key figure when the CBI started probing how the middlemen and the liquor licensees named in the FIR were routing the kickbacks to the public servants.
“Reliable sources have revealed that Vijay Nair, former CEO of Only Much Louder, an entertainment and event management company, Manoj Rai, ex employee of Pernod Ricard, Amandeep Dhal, owner of M/s. Brindco Spirits and Sameer Mahendru, owner of Indospirit, were actively involved in the irregularities in framing and implementation of the excise policy,” the FIR reads.
The CBI, it is learnt, is probing Nair’s relationship with three other accused — Arun Ramchandra Pillai, Amit Arora and Mahendru. The FIR lodged by the agency mentioned Pillai as a middleman who used to collect money from Mahendru for “onward transmission” to public servants through Nair. “A person named Arjun Pandey once collected a huge cash amount of about Rs 2-4 crore from Mahendru on behalf of Nair,” the FIR reads.
Arora, director of Buddy Retails, Gurugram, and accused number 9, is next on the CBI radar, said a source. The FIR alleges he is a close associate of Nair and Sisodia. Sources said that the investigators were looking into the balance sheets of Arora’s company and the expenditure incurred in the form of flight tickets and hotel bills etc. Nair and Arora, sources said, allegedly attended a few meetings during the drafting of the excise policy and were giving crucial inputs for making “favourable changes”, the source added.