The Enforcement Directorate has detected Hawala transactions worth Rs 5395 crore in Gujarat and has filed charge-sheets against 79 accused. The illegal route was being used for gold payments and property transactions, investigators said. The entire transaction took place from ICICI Bank’s two branches in Surat, as per the officials, between December-January-February. The official termed it as India’s largest hawala scam.
According to ED officials in Ahmedabad, the investigation started on the basis of ICICI Bank’s police complaint (FIR) in Surat. ED has filed charge sheet against 79 accused on Friday and out of three main accused two are arrested and one is absconding. Afrosh Hasan Fata and his associate Bilal Haroon Gilani are residents of Surat while the third main accused is Madan Jain, a resident of Mumbai. Afrosh Fata was arrested two months ago, while on Thursday Madan Jain was arrested and also produced before Ahmedabad metropolitan court for further remand.
The modus operandi was to transfer the money send by traders and business houses to overseas via submission of forge documents of diamond imports using the banking channels. Madan Jain opened as many as nine bogus companies and appointed paid directors to these companies. These bogus companies were used for sending money in overseas companies based in Hong Kong and Dubai. ED officials have traced down 17 such foreign companies.
Afrosh Fata used to get 0.1% commission on each transaction that he would execute. ED officials have attached Rs 9 crore worth of assets and bank belonging to Afrosh and his close relatives. ED has slammed section 3 & 4 of Money Laundering Act against the 79 accused.
The role of ICICI BankBSE 1.97 % officials is also under the scanner of ED officials. “Such a huge amount cannot be transferred without the help of bank insiders” said one ED officials adding that their primary investigation gives sign or evidence of using hawala transaction for the purpose of making gold smuggling payments and properly investments done overseas.