The Enforcement Directorate (ED) unearthed unaccounted cash worth Rs 3.75 crore and over 39 kg of gold and silver after conducting raids in Jaipur, Kolkata and Chennai against jewellers associated with an alleged gold-smuggling hawala racket.
The ED claimed that the action under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) has led to detection of “huge evasion” of customs duty, GST as well as Income Tax.
“The ED received reliable input that Maharaja Jewellers (proprietor Tara Chand Soni), Bhagwati Jewellers (owner Ram Gopal Soni) and Ladiwala Associates (owner Honey Ladiwala) of Jaipur were purchasing smuggled gold bars from Harsh Bothra of Chennai and Banka Bullions Pvt. Ltd etc,” the agency said in a statement.
While acting on the information, it was found that various individuals were involved in smuggling of gold bars and subsequent dispatch of those to Jaipur. Gold bars were mainly arriving in Jaipur via Kolkata and had high purity level, it said.
The suspects used to remove the foreign mark of manufacturer or bank engraved or embossed on the gold bars and then smuggle those into the country, the ED said. These bars were then dispatched to various domestic markets by different modes of transportation to evade action from the law enforcement agencies.
The accused jewellers did not account for jewellery manufactured from smuggled gold and illegal funds generated were then transferred through hawala agents based in these cities, the agency said.
Hawala denotes the illegal manner of transferring funds by skirting banking channels and dealing in cash through agents.
“Searches at various premises in Jaipur, Kolkata and Chennai resulted in seizure of unaccounted Indian and foreign currency worth Rs 3.75 crore, gold bar and jewellery weighing 26.97 kg and silver weighing 12.22 kg along with incriminating documents. Electronic and digital devices seized are still to be
examined and may lead to further details of illegal dealings,” the agency added.