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Hawala operators beat Election Commission steps to check dirty money

Sunday, 13 April 2014 - 9:40am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Just where is this money coming from?

There are survelliance teams monitoring airports, vehicles are being checked and the Election Commission (EC) has instructed banks to give an alert whenever a candidate makes a transaction of above Rs 10 lakh and buys more than 1 kg of gold.

Not a single bank has alerted the EC so far. Not has it heard of any 'gold rush'. But money is flowing freely to the coffers of political parties.

So much so, that candidates are competing with each other to beat the permissible campaign spend. EC rules place a cap of Rs 70 lakh on individual campaigning, but sources say individual spend of candidate go up to Rs 15 crore. This also includes distribution of freebies among workers and locals.

The EC has seized over Rs 4.66 crore so far. That's peanuts, as you might have guessed.

Parties might have pumped in more than Rs 100 crore before the code of conduct came into force, said a source. Also, as a senior police officer said, hawala operators are getting smarter.

"When hawala operators are contacted for money, they get in touch with their local contacts. In most cases, they are angadias who arrange for money and deliver it. If a person is caught carrying cash, he is asked about the source. However, hawala operators are so well-prepared that they are now providing bills," he said.

The EC has also seized around 3.07 lakh litres of liquor from various parts of the state.

"Though we've clearly instructed to nab anyone carrying excessive cash and ascertain whether the money is meant for elections, candidates are certainly getting money from somewhere," an EC source said.

The EC has formed two squads — static surveillance team and flying squad.

"While the surveillance team keeps a tab on airports to check the flow of money from other states, the flying squads check vehicles on roads," an EC source said.

All that has not brought in any good news for the EC yet.

So far, the EC has seized around Rs 4.66 cr in the state

More than 3.07 lakh litres of liquor seized

EC has set expenditure limit of Rs 70 lakh to LS candidates

Bank withdrawals of more than Rs 10 lakh monitored by EC

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