The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday raided multiple hawala operators across the country involved in illegal conversion of old currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 to valid legal tender since demonetisation on November 8, said official sources.
The ED raided multiple locations in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Chennai among others based on intelligence gathered by the agency.
“So far the agency has recovered Rs 1 crore in old currencies and Rs 50 lakh in foreign currency. The raids are likely to continue till late night,” said a source.
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According to sources, while some hawala operators have accepted old currencies from clients at a premium and disclosed in as cash in hand in their book of account, some others have recorded it as loan disbursal entries in their books in the name of hundreds of fictitious people.
“The agency has found photocopies of passport of several individuals with hawala operators. It suspects that the operators were using it to exchange and deposit old currency,” the source said.
This is not the first time when hawala operators have come under the scanner since demonetisation. Two days after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes to curb corruption and black money, the income tax department raided several hawala dealers and jewellers across the country for cutting barter deals with people to convert invalid currency notes into valid legal tender.
According to sources, a few hours after Modi’s announcement to abolish old currency notes, offers were being made to exchange high currency notes for lower denomination notes (Rs 100 and below) of a lower value at a premium, or swapping of the currency notes for gold bars or gems and diamonds, and foreign currency.
The private exchanges were also being run by merchants with a high declared turnover.