Hawala accused businessman to be booked under PMLA


Official sources said the Enforcement Directorate which has already booked the businessman, accused of running a hawala network of over Rs 5,000 crore, under the Foreign Exchange Management Act late last month, is finishing the formalities needed to book the businessman under the PMLA. Under the Act, a person can be arrested besides possibility of his or her properties being seized, which is not possible under FEMA. Sources said under the PMLA, the burden of proof is on the accused.

They said amendments brought in the Act this year has made it easier for the agency to book the businessman, who was earlier arrested by Dubai Police in 2007 as part of their crackdown on money launderers following inputs from US's Homeland Security and UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency that he was allegedly involved in laundering drug money.

While the ED had seized unaccounted cash of Rs 60 lakh besides foreign currency amounting to a little over Rs three lakh during searches eight locations carried out last month, sources said what makes the case stronger is the huge sets of incriminating documents that the agency had seized. Papers showing transactions of several crores of rupees with different Pakistan and Afghanistan-based persons and entities were also seized.

The agency has also identified a few dozen companies which they believe were being used by the businessman for his hawala operations. Sources said the agency has also laid its hands upon a list of various exporters and importers besides others who had financial transactions with the businessman, who had come to the country about six months back from Dubai.

The businessman who is alleged to have claimed that he had lost his Indian passport in Nepal is under surveillance of various agencies. The ED was on his trail for the last six months after he moved his operation to the country from Dubai where he was running his alleged hawala operation for the last 20 years. They said his operations are believed to be spread over Nigeria, Italy, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Bolivia, Congo and Cooks Island among many other countries.

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