In a major development, the Enforcement Directorate on May 6, 2023, arrested Anwar Dhebar, brother of Congress leader and mayor of Raipur Aijaz Dhebar, in connection with the Chhattisgarh liquor scam. A day after the arrest, on May 7, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said that it found evidence of corruption and money laundering worth about Rs 2,000 crore, which was being run with the help of high-level politicians and bureaucrats in the state.
Anwar was arrested by the federal anti-money laundering agency from a hotel in Raipur.
ED on May 7 in its statement said that it has “collected evidence of unprecedented corruption and money laundering about worth Rs 2,000 crore between 2019 and 2022”.
It further revealed. “An organised criminal syndicate led by Anwar was operating in the state. Anwar, though a private citizen, was working for the illegal gratification of the senior bureaucrats and high-level political executives. Anwar weaved an elaborate conspiracy and stitched a wide network of persons to execute the scam so that money was illegally collected from liquor sold in Chhattisgarh.”
Notably, raids were carried out earlier in March. The agency also claimed in its remand paper submitted before a court on May 6 that “Anwar was the main collection agent and frontman of this liquor syndicate, which had hijacked the administration of excise department in Chhattisgarh”.
Here it is worth mnetioning that the Chhattisgarh government controls liquor trade in the state from procurement to retail sale to consumer. No private liquor shops are allowed. There are about 800 liquor shops, which is run by the state and Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited (CSMCL) procures all the liquor sold in the state.
ED probe has also revealed that with the support of the political executives, Anwar managed to get the managing director of CSMCL and a pliant Commissioner and hired (his) close associates to make the system completely subservient to him.
“He controlled the entire chain of the liquor trade starting from – private distillers, FL-10A license holders, senior officers of the excise department, district level excise officers, manpower suppliers, glass bottle makers, hologram makers, cash collection vendor etc and leveraged it to extort maximum amount of bribes/commission. Various other stakeholders also illegally benefited in the process,” said, reported HT while quoting ED.