I-T Department Exposes Rs 4,000-Crore Hawala Racket in MP's Jabalpur
The accused's modus operandi included using agents to collect cash from businesses in the region and send it out of the state through his men, said an officer from the department.
Representative image (PTI)
Bhopal: In perhaps the biggest ever expose in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the Income-Tax Department has unearthed a hawala racket of around Rs 4,000 crore.
I-T sleuths took suo motu action a few days ago and conducted a survey of a Jabalpur-based trader, Khoobchand Lalwani alias Bunty, who runs a private consultancy. After the department found Rs 65 lakh in cash in his office, the survey was converted into a search operation and a two-day probe unearthed Rs 4,100 crore in hawala trade.
The department’s principal director of investigations, Patanajali Jha, confirmed the expose of the hawala racket and said a probe was on.
Sources in the department claimed that Lalwani, who used to charge a commission of Rs 300 for transferring a lakh in illegal money, had earned around Rs 6.5 crore in the last six years. The nexus spanned several states, sources added. The unlawful transactions of the racket ranged from Rs 5 lakh to over Rs 1 crore.
During the investigation, the I-T sleuths found thousands of entries of illegal transactions in Lalwani’s computer as well as paper entries of recent transactions.
However, the officers involved in the action declined to say if the racket could be politically funded.
Lalwani’s modus operandi included using agents to collect cash from businesses in the region and send it out of the state through his men, said an officer from the department.
The officer also claimed that nothing was found to link the illicit trade with terror funding. Last year, the department had unearthed hawala trade worth Rs 1,500 crore in Jabalpur. In 2017, the Madhya Pradesh Police had also exposed a hawala racket worth Rs 500 crore in Katni, less than 100 km from Jabalpur.
In the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, the I-T department has increased the heat on illegal transactions. On Friday, the department conducted raids on three Bhopal-based jewellers and exposed unaccounted income to the tune of Rs 2.75 crore.
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