ED files laundering plaints with CBI

Keeps its focus on cracking down on shell companies used to launder unaccounted-for cash

Updated - July 08, 2017 04:46 pm IST

Published - December 10, 2016 11:01 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Just ashes: People show burnt Rs. 500 notes retrieved from a garbage dump in Chikkamagaluru on Saturday.

Just ashes: People show burnt Rs. 500 notes retrieved from a garbage dump in Chikkamagaluru on Saturday.

: Adopting a novel approach to initiate legal action against those indulging in the illegal exchange of demonetised notes, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has started lodging complaints with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seeking registration of cases. The agency’s prime focus is on the suspected use of a large number of shell companies to adjust the unaccounted cash.

“We are conducting verification of a large number of suspicious bank transactions, including those opened in the name of shell companies of non-existing firms. Wherever necessary, we are filing complaints to ensure that the accused persons are prosecuted for the offence. Based on the cases, we will also initiate money-laundering probes,” said an ED official.

List of 100

The ED has so far prepared a list of about 100 shell companies for preliminary enquiries. It cannot initiate a money laundering probe on its own. The cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act have to be registered on the basis of First Information Reports (FIRs) lodged by primary agencies, including the CBI, under relevant penal provisions.

One such case registered on December 8 pertains to deposits of about Rs.7 crore in fake accounts belonging to about 15 unknown persons. Among those allegedly involved were identified as an Axis Bank deputy manager Amitesh Sinha at a Burrabazar branch in Kolkata, sales tax consultant Sanjay Jain, his staffer Manoj, and others. The bank manager looked after the current accounts and was also engaged in opening new current accounts.

The ED alleged that Mr. Sinha entered into a criminal conspiracy with Mr. Jain and others to facilitate the opening of bogus bank accounts in the name of several shell companies, some identified as Indian Traders, Kolkata Suppliers and Ganesh International, using forged identification documents. The accounts were used to deposit the trashed notes.

Based on the complaint, the CBI has registered a case of cheating, forgery and corruption against the accused persons.

Searches conducted

The ED also conducted searches on the premises of Mr. Jain, who allegedly exercised control on the shell companies, which were opened using the identification papers of various people without their knowledge. A Chartered Accountant had obtained the Permanent Account Number (PAN) card details through Mr. Jain to float the shell companies, the agency alleges.

In his statement to the Directorate, the sales tax consultant purportedly confessed that he used to raise fake bills for his clients to get exemptions and adjust black money into white. The accused charged two per cent commission for the job, also for depositing the notes. He had arranged about 20 cash hoarders who wanted to get the old Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 notes exchanged through banks. Efforts are under way to identify the beneficiaries.

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