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Chhattisgarh 'liquor scam': Noida bizman arrested by UP STF

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Noida, May 2 (PTI) The Special Task Force of the Uttar Pradesh police on Thursday arrested a Noida-based businessman in connection with a probe into the alleged Chhattisgarh liquor scam, officials said.

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An FIR was lodged at the Kasna police station in Greater Noida in July last year on the complaint of a deputy director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is investigating the alleged scam.

Those named as accused were Niranjan Das, IAS officer and former excise commissioner of Chhattisgarh, Arunpati Tripathi, managing director of Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited and special secretary (excise), Chhattisgarh, Anil Tuteja, IAS officer and former industries secretary, Chhattisgarh, Anwar Dhewar, a politician, and Noida-based businessman Vidhu Gupta.

"Vidhu Gupta, director of M/s Prizm Holography Security Films (PHSF), was detained for questioning at the STF office in Noida and later arrested at around 1.15 pm in connection with the case," an agency officer said.

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The ED is investigating the alleged liquor scam under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the STF said.

According to the FIR lodged at Kasna police station, Gupta's PHSF was illegally granted tender to supply holograms to the Excise Department of Chhattisgarh.

"The company was not eligible to participate in the tender process, but in connivance with the company's owners, the senior officials of Chhattisgarh namely Arunpati Tripathi ITS (special secretary excise), Niranjan Das IAS (excise commissioner), Anil Tuteja IAS - modified the tender conditions and illegally allotted the tender to M/s Prizm Holography Security Films Pvt Ltd Noida," the ED officer had stated in the FIR.

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"As a quid pro quo, they took a commission of 8 paise per hologram and also took a commitment to supply unaccounted duplicate holograms to carry out a sinister crime of selling illegal country liquor bottles from state-run shops in Chhattisgarh," it alleged.

The ED official said the hologram was in fact a safety feature to ensure that authenticated liquor is sold in the state. But the actions of PHSF in manufacturing duplicate holograms at Noida, allowed the "liquor syndicate" to use the very same safety feature, to fool the gullible general consumers, the official said.

The holograms were made at the Noida factory and then transported to Chhattisgarh. The contract was given to PHSF for supplying 80 crore holograms in five years at a highly inflated price in return for an on-demand supply of duplicate holograms, the official said. PTI KIS RHL

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