Enforcement Directorate officials of Ahmedabad and Surat carried out raids at the house and office of a diamond businessman — Afroz Fatta — on Saturday, suspecting his involvement in a hawala (money laundering) racket case. On Friday, the ED officials claimed to have unearthed a hawala racket amounting to Rs 700 crore in Surat.
Though the officials are yet to verify the seized documents from Fatta’s office, they have started probe into “dummy bank account holders” from where Rs 700 crore had been transferred to a bank account in Hong Kong. A Mumbai-based diamond businessman, Madanlal Jain, was suspected to be the mastermind and was on the run, said sources.
In search operations carried out by ED officials at offices of Fatta in Surat, it was found that on the pretext of importing diamonds, huge amount of foreign exchange was sent outside the country.
Sources said that Jain along with three others forged bills to show import of diamond consignments and other materials which reportedly never took place.
Jain operates from Mumbai and owns firms in Surat. Two other accused, of which one is reportedly a politician, were also absconding, the police said. On verifying the bank accounts to which money was transferred, the officials found that the address submitted to the bank were not genuine. Statements of the bank officials have also been recorded.
Fatta was also questioned about his links with Jain. He reportedly disclosed that he had imported rough and polished diamonds worth Rs 25 crore from Hong Kong and Dubai which he had sold to Jain and received the payment. After being questioned for two hours at ED office in Surat, Fatta was released.
The ED officials in Mumbai also carried out raids at the office and residence of Jain and found him absconding. The ED officials would also take help of the Indian Embassy in Hong Kong to find out the details of the account holder. The ED sought assistance of the local police in the probe.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Zone 3 K N Damor said, “We have received a letter from Enforcement Directorate Department to investigate into the hawala racket case. We will call Fatta and take his statement and try to find out whether he is involved in any of the illegal activities or not.”
Talking to The Indian Express, Fatta said, “I am not involved in any of the hawala racket. I have given my statement to ED officials, after raids were carried out at my house and office. I am ready to face any legal action if I am found guilty. I have given all the documents of my company, which are been verified by them. I have not been detained or arrested by the officials.”