ED raids Delhi CM Kejriwal’s personal assistant, AAP MP, others on charges of DJB tender kickbacks

NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday searched the premises of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s personal assistant Bibhav Kumar and others as part of a probe into charges that bribes generated from “irregularities” in the DJB tendering process were routed as election funds to the AAP, official sources said.About 10–12 premises in the national capital have been covered by the officials of the federal agency since 7 am as part of the raids being undertaken under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).The residences of Bibhav Kumar, former Delhi Jal Board (DJB) member Shalabh Kumar, office of party Rajya Sabha MP and national treasurer N D Gupta, and Chartered Accountant (CA) Pankaj Mangal, apart from some others linked to the party that rules Delhi, are being covered by the officials of the agency.Delhi minister Atishi charged that the latest raids on AAP leaders were being carried out to “scare” the political party.The raids pertain to a probe linked to alleged irregularities in the tendering process of the DJB, in which the ED arrested retired Jal Board chief engineer Jagdish Kumar Arora and contractor Anil Kumar Aggarwal on January 31.A special PMLA court on Monday extended their remand by five more days after the ED claimed their further custodial interrogation was required to unearth the “larger conspiracy.”The ED is probing two separate matters of irregularities in the tendering process of the DJB, and its criminal case stems from an FIR of the CBI and from the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) of the Delhi government.The CBI FIR alleged that officials of the DJB gave “undue advantage” to NKG Infrastructure Limited while awarding a tender to the company for supply, installation, testing, and commissioning of electro-magnetic flow metres in connivance with officials of the NBCC (India) Limited.The CBI FIR alleged that Arora awarded certain contracts of the DJB to NKG Infrastructure Ltd. for a total cost of Rs 38 crore “despite the fact that the company did not meet the technical eligibility criteria.”The probe found that NKG Infrastructure Ltd obtained the bid by allegedly submitting forged, fake and false documents, according to the ED sources.Arora is alleged to have been “aware” of the fact that the company does not meet the technical eligibility.The second allegation pertains to the ACB complaint of November 2022, where it was stated that the DJB awarded a tender for setting up automotive bill payment collection machines (kiosks) in its different offices to facilitate consumers in bill payment.The sources said that he received “bribe” amounts both in cash and bank accounts and passed these alleged kickbacks to Bibhav, Shalab Kumar, Pankaj Mangal, and others.The kickbacks, according to the sources, were also passed on as election funds to the AAP.The ED investigation found that the contract with DJB was awarded at “highly inflated rates” so that the bribes could be collected back from the contractors.A records analysis by the ED found that out of the contract value of Rs 38 crore, only about Rs 17 crore was spent towards the tender work, and the remaining amount was “syphoned off in guise of various fake expenses.”Such fake expenses, the ED claims, were booked for bribes and election funds.The ED raids came on a day when party leader and minister Atishi had promised to do an “explosive expose” on the agency.She claimed in a press conference that the ED ‘deleted’ audio recording of witness statements in certain cases, including the excise policy probe, being investigated against AAP functionaries. The minister challenged the agency to produce them in front of the court and the country.Atishi said searches were being carried out at the residence of Gupta and his personal assistant, apart from the PA of CM Kejriwal.

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