Updated: December 2, 2021 10:19:49 pm
What started as an alert about a man holding a machete inside an ATM kiosk has led the Bengaluru police to a suspected money laundering racket being run from Kerala.
According to the police, as part of the racket, a whopping Rs 31.5 crore has been credited to various people, in an effort to get cash into bank accounts through small transactions.
Police officers said the first information in the case came on October 21, when locals raised an alert about a man with a blade inside a Bank of India ATM kiosk in JP Nagar 6th phase. “The complainant, Venkatesh, came across a suspicious-looking man holding a bag. When Venkatesh asked him what he was doing, the accused, Mohammed Sahil, tried to offer him cash. Venkatesh came out of the kiosk and alerted people. Sahil started to flee but locals caught him and handed him over to Puttenahalli police,” an officer said.
The police found a long sword and Rs one lakh cash in his bag, which he could not account for. Upon interrogation, it was found that he was a native of Kerala, and had been living in the city for months.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) (south) Harish Pandey on Thursday said Sahil was then taken to his residence, where they found bundles of bank slips, of money credited to various accounts. There were two more people, named Faisal and Mohammed Fazal, at the residence.
The police further said that upon searching the house, Rs 20.15 lakh in cash, a cash counting machine and thousands of bank slips were found, revealing that Rs 8.59 crore had been deposited in 2,656 bank accounts in the past three months.
“A total of Rs 31.5 crore money seems to have been deposited in the 185 out of 2,656 accounts for which we have received statements from banks so far,” Pandey said.
Police sources said the two accused worked in the Middle East but had lost their jobs during the pandemic and returned to India. They were jobless for many months when they were told by someone to go to Bengaluru and do as instructed, to earn Rs 60,000 per month. They would get orders to collect cartons full of cash from a designated person at a specified location, for which a code was given every time. On the same day, they would get details of the bank accounts to which the money was to be credited.
The accused used ATM kiosks to credit the cash, with each transaction within Rs 50,000.
On November 1, another arrest was made in the case, one Abdul Manas from Kerala. The arrested accused have claimed they were operating on the directions of another accused, who has been identified and is absconding.
Pandey said co-operation has been sought from central agencies specialising in money laundering cases, and the kingpin is yet to be identified.
“It looks like some merchants of Kerala who have connections in Karnataka were trying to convert black money into accounted cash through these means,” he said.
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