ED arrests Delhi resident over ₹4,978-crore cheating case

The ED alleged that the funds generated by a cybercrime syndicate were layered and accumulated in the bank accounts of the companies/firms controlled by the “kingpin” Ashish Kakkar and his associates.

March 13, 2024 10:51 pm | Updated March 14, 2024 02:37 am IST - NEW DELHI

The ED arrested Delhi resident Ashish Kakkar for allegedly running a cybercrime syndicate. Image for representation.

The ED arrested Delhi resident Ashish Kakkar for allegedly running a cybercrime syndicate. Image for representation. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested Delhi resident Ashish Kakkar for allegedly running a cybercrime syndicate that cheated people across the country of ₹4,978 crore over the past four years. The funds were siphoned off and diverted overseas.

Mr. Kakkar, a resident of Greater Kailash in Delhi, was picked up from a hotel in neighbouring Gurugram. Subsequently, the agency secured his 10-day custody from a special court till March 12 in connection with the money laundering probe initiated on the basis of first information reports (FIRs) registered in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and other States.

The ED alleged that the funds generated by the syndicate were layered and accumulated in the bank accounts of the companies/firms controlled by the “kingpin” and his associates. They were subsequently transferred abroad through the “hawala” route via “circular trading”.

It is alleged that Mr. Kakkar imported a large number of consignments – declaring high-value items such as rose oil and solar panel machinery – from Dubai, Hong Kong, China, and other countries, to the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Mundra, Kandla and other places. The consignments were then exported from the SEZs itself. He and his associates then sent outward remittances totalling about ₹4,978 crore, against the imports. However, the agency alleged, no remittances were realised against the export of goods from the SEZs.

Mr. Kakkar and his accomplices had created more than 200 companies/firms in the name of their employees or based on the identification documents of those hired for the sole purpose of setting up dummy companies/firms. He was neither a director nor any officeholder in these companies, but he allegedly controlled each transaction made through their bank accounts with the help of his associates.

No financial statements

The agency found that all the companies controlled by the accused were incorporated on same dates, had same addresses, and common directors. “All these dummy companies have substantial banking transactions, but have not filed their financial statements with the Registrar of Companies,” said an official.

Earlier in May 2023, the agency searched 25 premises in Delhi (11), Gujarat (7), Maharashtra (4), Madhya Pradesh (2), and Andhra Pradesh (1) in the same case. Another round of searches at 14 locations was carried out in February-March 2024 in relation to the probe against foreign-registered online gaming companies/websites operating in India. It seized eight-kg gold bars valued about ₹5.04 crore, ₹75 lakh in cash, jewellery, high-end luxury watches and luxury cars.

“Several PAN/Aadhaar cards used for creating dummy firms, mobile phones used for operating their bank accounts, and office stamps were seized from the premises of Mr. Kakkar. In order to evade detection, the syndicate members were using remote-based server/laptops that were being accessed via apps like Anydesk, Team Viewer etc. In the instant case, two such remotely accessed laptops have also been recovered and seized from the premises of an entity providing server services located far away from the actual operational places,” the official said.

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