The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has seized liquor worth over Rs 2.4 crore and three luxury cars following searches conducted on a suspected liquor mafia here.
Officials said the searches were launched yesterday against Ramesh J Patel alias Michael, his wife and others for alleged smuggling of liquor from Daman to Gujarat, where liquor consumption is prohibited under law.
The central probe agency in a statement issued in Delhi said Patel has over 30 cases registered against him under the Gujarat Prohibition Act, 1949 and it has now booked him under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) based on these charges and also that of an alleged violation of the excise law.
It said the agency’s zonal office in Surat conducted the raids and seized a Land Rover Evoque and two Audi cars worth over Rs 2 crore, more than 1.91 lakh bottles of various brands of liquor worth Rs 2.54 crore and Rs 9 lakh cash after the operation ended.
“The investigation showed the involvement of Patel and his wife Bhanuben, residents of Daman who own and operate wine shops, and they have surfaced as the main supplier of IMFL from where the said liquor is smuggled in bulk quantity to Gujarat through local bootleggers despite the fact that the IMFL supplied by distilleries to wine shops owners in Daman is for sale in Daman only,” it said.
The agency said Patel was operating an illegal warehouse of about 3000 sq metres in Daman for “his illegal liquor business without any license or permission from Excise authorities.
“It was found that the said premise was purposely concealed by a ‘chawl’ like locality wherein 80 families are living in small rooms protecting this illegal warehouse,” the Enforcement Directorate statement said.
It added that an alleged shortage of stock of 38,000 liquor cases worth over Rs 7 crore has been detected which is suspected to have been illegally “diverted” out of the Union Territory of Daman. PTI NES DV 05101320
ILLEGAL LIQUOR BUSINESS
Liquor business in Daman is carried out under a license issued by the Excise authorities under the Goa, Daman and Diu Excise Duty Act. The act stipulates that no individual can enter into a partnership with the original license holder without the consent of the Commissioner of Excise. The actual partnership deed, in case of Sai Wines, available with the office of the Commissioner of Excise, Daman, is dated 15.05.2014, however, the accused in this case have forged different partnership deeds in 2005 and 2012 and submitted to the banks and operated illegal business of liquor on basis of the same. This violation was brought to the notice of Commissioner of Excise, Daman by the ED officials, who then lodged a complaint with the Daman Police and an FIR was registered for cheating the government by making forged documents.
The investigation reveale that Patel was operating an illegal warehouse of about 3000 sq. mts approx. for all his illegal liquor business without any license or permission from the Excise authorities. It was found that the said premise was purposely concealed by a “chawl” like locality wherein 80 families are living in small rooms protecting this illegal warehouse.
A stock of 8850 boxes and 1,91,478 bottles valued at Rs. 2.54 crore were recovered during the search at this warehouse and were handed over to the Excise officials. Also unaccounted cash amount of Rs 9,01,500 was recovered which was seized from the warehouse premises.
During the search, ED officials also seized the 3 imported vehicles including Land Rover Evoque, Audi Q3 and Audi A8L valued at more than Rs 2 crore approximately.