New Delhi, December 14: Hastening the battle against Hawala operators and money launderers, Enforcement Directorate has found at least 6 accounts with “suspicious cash deposits” amounting to Rs 100-150 crore in the Karol Bagh branch of HDFC Bank in Delhi.
The operation was conducted after a tip-off was obtained from the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) last week, as per TOI. The surveys were started on Saturday and by Monday ED had found trails of more than Rs 100 crore.
The report further revealed that some of these suspicious accounts received cash deposits of Rs 30 crore each between November 8 and 25 which were later transferred out to “beneficiaries” who could be ‘entry operators’.
Who is an entry operator? An entry operator is basically an individual, who works as a hawala dealer and creates shell companies. He opens bank accounts with fictitious addresses and deposits huge unaccounted income in cash in these bank accounts, while layering it up with circular transactions in multiple accounts before making a final transfer(s) to the actual beneficiaries.
TOI also quoted an HDFC bank spokesman: Last week we received a routine enquiry from ED for a certain transaction that we had reported to the FIU as per the law. We are in the process of furnishing the information sought by the ED.
As per the report, ED is now investigating alleged connivance of bank managers in allowing such huge deposits which were later transferred to beneficiaries through the banking channel.
At least Rs 100 crore has been transferred from bank to the beneficiaries in two weeks after the demonetisation was announced.
In the initial probe, ED has tracked few jewellers and bullion traders, but they are not ruling out the possibility of presence other actual beneficiaries.
Earlier ED had arrested two bank officials and a chartered accountant from Kashmere Gate branch of Axis Bank in a similar type of case. In the Axis Bank matter, the ED registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The beneficiaries in the case were found to be casual labourers who were unaware of the transactions.
In another case in Bengaluru, the ED arrested 7 persons on Monday and seized Rs 93 lakh in new currency notes of Rs 2,000.
Yesterday, RBI had also said that the apex bank has been working out steps with investigative agencies to expose the hawala operators and bank officials.