New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested alleged hawala dealer Naresh Jain in a money laundering probe case. The probe case is linked to the dubious transactions worth over Rs 1 lakh crore. The transactions have been made using over 550 shell firms over the last few years, ED officials said Wednesday. The ED officials said Naresh Jain has been arrested under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). He will soon be produced before a court here.
A maze of 554 shell or dubious firms, at least 940 suspect bank accounts and fund transfers of over Rs 1.07 lakh crore are under the scanner of the agency in this probe, touted to be one of the biggest hawala and trade-based money-laundering cases of India.
Under the ED’s probe scanner are some ‘big corporates and a large foreign exchange company’, official sources said.
The agency is probing Jain and his associates as part of two money laundering cases that are based on a Delhi Police economic offences wing (EOW) FIR of 2018 and a criminal complaint of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), 2009.
Jain has been arrested by the ED in 2009 in the PMLA case emerging from the NCB case in December, 2009. The latest arrest of the Delhi-based businessman is in connection with the police EOW FIR filed on charges of cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy that was registered on the basis of a complaint sent by the ED to it.
The ED, after the PMLA case booked on the basis of EOW FIR, had searched Jain and his associates’ premises in Rohini and Vikaspuri areas of the national capital and had seized ‘14 digital keys for operating foreign bank accounts’ which were used to perform telegraphic transfers, documents related to operalisation of alleged shell firms, pen drives, hard drives among others, officials said.
The agency, as per officials, is probing as many as 337 foreign bank accounts in countries like Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore.
It was found, the ED officials said, that cash taken in India was ‘sent to the foreign bank accounts through fictitious tours and travel firms and telegraphic transfers were done subsequently to foreign beneficiaries’.
The agency, sources said, has detected about 970 beneficiaries to whom about Rs 18,000 crore alleged dubious funds have been transferred till now.
A number of fake documents, mark sheets, birth certificates, PAN cards and voter ID card were also recovered by the agency on the basis of which the dubious bank accounts and shell firms were being allegedly operated, they said.
Jain has been under the scanner of probe agencies for long and in 2016, the ED had slapped a Rs 1,200-crore notice on him for alleged contravention of the forex law.
According to the agencies, Jain has allegedly laundered and routed hawala funds for years, financed contraband networks and this was the reason he was also arrested by the NCB in the past.
The serious organised crime agency (SOCA) of the UK has also given a report on Jain and his associates’ alleged money laundering activities to India in 2009 when he was based in Dubai. The police in Dubai had also arrested him with nine others in February, 2007 on charges of similar crimes. However, he later got bail.