Zonal office of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday unearthed probably the biggest money laundering (hawala) racket of the state amounting to Rs700 crore.
In search operations carried out at offices of diamond traders in Surat, the ED officials found that in the guise of importing diamonds, huge amount of foreign exchange was sent outside the country.
According to available details, the ED detained two individuals — Afroz Haasan Fatta and Madanlal Jain — who were running the racket from Surat showing fake imports. “The duo was producing fake bills of entry in the banks to show that they are importing diamonds from various countries. Based on the fake bills of entry, banks used to transfer the amount to overseas banks. Our investigation reveal that the racket runs into Rs700 crore,” said an ED official.
A bill of entry is a declaration by an importer/exporter about the nature, precise quantity and value of goods that have landed or being shipped out. And in general, a customs clerk or broker prepares it. It is believed the duo had no intention of importing and prepared fake bills of entry.
The ED is not ruling out the involvement of bank officials in this particular case. And, according to sources, preliminary branches of Axis Bank and ICICI Bank in Surat were used by the accused.
“Without importing anything and transferring funds to a foreign country is violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act. As per the rules, an individual or firm has to import goods or services and pay in exchange. However, in this case, there were no imports in reality and it is believed that money was transferred unofficially to foreign accounts,” added the official.
Search, investigation and interrogation of the people involved in the racket are still going on. And it will take some time before the agency can reveal further information related to the racket.
“At the moment, we are not in a position to reveal the destinations where the money was sent. We cannot even reveal details of the recipient of the funds in foreign countries,” the official concluded.