ED will send its investigators to Malaysia to trace businessmen with Lodha links there.
New Delhi: The revelations by Kolkata-based businessman Parasmal Lodha about converting demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, allegedly for a hefty commission, have led the Enforcement Directorate to probe his international links, particularly with hawala dealers. Sources claimed Lodha’s interrogation has revealed that he planned to get in touch with his foreign contacts to turn the black money white. ED sources said a team was likely to be sent to Malaysia to probe Lodha’s revelations further.
Sources said ED sleuths were trying to trace the identity of Lodha’s associates or business links in Malaysia. “The agency may send a team to Malaysia to get details about the individuals based there who have links with Lodha,” a source said. The ED is also coordinating with its offices within the country to examine Lodha’s other links, the sources said. “During the initial interrogation Lodha said that after the demonetisation, he and his associates had converted demonetised currency of around Rs 25 crores into new currency notes for a commission of 15-20 per cent”, a source said, adding that he had links with several hawala operators across the country.
The ED had on December 22 arrested Lodha, 62, after the recovery of a large amount of cash in new currency notes from a company that belonged to a Delhi-based advocate, Rohit Tandon, of T&T law firm, and J. Shekhar Reddy of Chennai. Delhi police officials seized Rs 14 crores, of which over Rs 2.2 crores was in brand-new Rs 2,000 notes, from the law firm owned by Tandon. “Investigations by the ED revealed the new currency was allegedly arranged and sent by Lodha. He has alleged links with several hawala operators in the country”, a source said. Reddy had been arrested by the CBI on Wednesday. Lodha also has interests in mining, finance, consultancy and firms that own restaurants. Lodha had first gained prominence after his aggressive takeover of Peerless General Finance and Investment Company Ltd in 1991.
An source in the investigation agency said: “Large sums of money were transferred to foreign countries from India through the hawala route. This money was handed over to various businessmen. We shared this information with our officials in Chennai, who lodged a separate case of money-laundering. The names of two businessmen — Shekhar Reddy and one more — had cropped up in the investigation. Lodha helped Reddy to convert Rs 6 crores in old notes into new currency.”