Farooq Shaikh's hawala business worth over Rs 5,000 crore

The investigators said that more than 160 bank accounts were in laundering money.

Mumbai: Enforcement Directorate (ED)’s interrogation of the city’s arguably biggest hawala operator Mohammad Farooq Shaikh, who was arrested on Tuesday, revealed that the quantum of his money-laundering business is worth over Rs 5,000 crore. The ED officials said that the accused hawala operator worked for traders who imported consumer durables from China and helped them in laundering money.

The modus operandi of Shaikh's operation was Trade Based Money Laundering (TBML) which is basically done by importing goods and declaring their value lower than the actual price (market value). “Chunk of the money went to Hong Kong and Dubai. We have identified many of the traders who would launder their money with Shaikh's help, however, there is no complete clarity on what happened to money overseas as yet,” said an ED officer.

The investigators said that more than 160 bank accounts were used to launder money. Apart from laundering, he would also take cheques from some corporate houses and give cash after deducting his percentage. The cheque and money were later used for separate transactions by him, which amounted to violation of laws.

The officials said that apart from laundering of Rs 2200 crore since 2015, they have also come across Foreign Exchange Management Act violations to the tune of equal amount taking the total beyond Rs 5000 crore.

“The importers and traders who dealt with him are now under scanner and they will be questioned. The dummy directors he appointed for his over 16 shell companies will also be identified and summoned," added the ED officer.

The officials are now ascertaining how his firms remitted about Rs 2,252 crore funds between 2015-16 without showing enough collaterals, when the actual bills of entry were only for Rs 24.64 crore. The same was done by submitting non-existent and forged import documents to the banks, which never raise alarm.

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