[Bail Hearing] “Benoy Babu played singular key role”: ED submits before Delhi High Court in Excise Policy Scam Case

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Binoy worked as a Regional Manager with a liquor company M/S Pernod Ricard and was arrested in November 2022 in connection with the excise policy scam case being investigated by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED).

During the hearing in the bail plea of Hyderabad-based businessman and accused in the Delhi Excise Policy case Benoy Babu on Monday, the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) told the Delhi High Court that “He (Benoy Babu) played a singular key role in making sure that the wholesale of Pernod Richard goes to Indo Spirit to ensure advance kickbacks are assured. His role is so critical.”

Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Zoheb Hossain, on behalf of ED, contended, “He (Benoy Babu) is responsible for sending thousands of emails. I'll show that in due course. He was the only one directly in touch with Vijay Nair and go between persons with the South Group”.

“This is a case where, there has been large-scale destruction of evidence not only in form of deletion of WhatsApp chats, deletion of emails, etc but also in the form of destruction and complete removal of mobile phones that were being operated, which we have devoted an entire chapter on. We will place that on record. Even trial court judge has taken note of that”, Hossain submitted.

Referring to chats between Benoy Babu and Manoj Rai relating to policy-related documents, Hossain contended that he (Benoy Babu) deleted the chats intentionally. He contended that Babu was aware of the updates of the policy formulation, which he shared with other Pernod Ricard officials, which included sensitive information like recommendations of changes by the LG for final approval.

“This shows that he was hand in glove with the officials who were handling the draft of policy making. He (Benoy Babu) sends emails to people containing drafts of the policy. He was aware that it was sensitive information, as he is seen saying the same in one of the emails to his colleague”, he submitted.

Taking note of the submissions, the bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma listed the matter for further hearing on May 4 at 2 pm.

It is to be noted that Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, on behalf of Benoy Babu, had earlier, contended, “It has to be shown that this man who is a small cog in the wheel (Pernod Richard India) was connected knowingly either with (AAP communication in-charge Vijay Nair) or with the south group or within both and he facilitated the conversion of the bribe money into legitimate funds. It has to be shown by ED from the facts of the predicate offence that Babu was knowingly helping one or the other from those set of facts of bribe giving or benefit making. What the ED has said has nothing to do with giving or taking of bribe”.

The senior counsel had stated that Pernod Richard being one of the stakeholders had made a suggestion to the government with regard to the Delhi Excise Policy. The suggestion was to keep the wholesaler as the Delhi Government, so in the chain (Manufacturer, Wholesaler, Retailer & Customer) and not to make it completely private, he said, “However, everything was made private, ultimately they scrapped the policy”, he added.

“If I was part of the South Group & Vijay Nair Conspiracy then, I (my company) would not have made such a suggestion. This is the strongest point to clear my name and my company's name, I was not in favor of privatization, wanted the government to remain in between”, Rohatgi had concluded.

Notably, Babu moved the High Court on February 21, challenging the trial court’s order denying him bail. Binoy worked as a Regional Manager with a liquor company M/S Pernod Ricard and was arrested in November 2022 in connection with the case being investigated by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED).

It is also to be noted that on February 16, the Special Judge MK Nagpal of the Rouse Avenue Court, Delhi denied bail to Babu, Vijay Nair, Abhishek Boinpally, Sameer Mahendru, and Sarath P Reddy. All of them were arrested by ED in the money laundering case related to the Delhi Liquor scam.

Case Title: Binoy Babu v. ED

Statue: The Code of Criminal Procedure; The Prevention of Money Laundering Act