ED raids places linked to hawala operators, illegal forex dealers in Kerala


New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday said that they recently conducted searches under FEMA violations at 14 locations in Kerala as part of an investigation into a network of hawala operators and illegal forex dealers in the state.

The raids were carried out based on gathered intelligence that hawala operations were being conducted at these premises, disguised as Forex Money Exchanges, gift shops, textile stores, jewellery shops, and readymade garment shops.

“Among the key players in the hawala network and the targets of the search operation were Suresh Forex, Ettumanoor Forex, Dubai Forex, Sangeetha Foreign Exchange, Crescent Trading, Hana Trading, Fornas Forex Pvt Ltd, and their key managerial persons.

“Assorted foreign currencies from more than 15 countries, amounting to approximately Rs 1.50 crore, were seized. Additionally, a significant sum of unaccounted Indian Rupees, generated from illegal foreign currency exchange and totalling approximately Rs 1.40 crore, was also recovered and seized during the operation,” stated an official.

The ED revealed that the searches also exposed the involvement of these individuals and entities in illegal foreign currency exchanges and arranging cross-border payments to Dubai, the US, and Canada through hawala channels, bypassing legal banking channels. The operators admitted to conducting illegal forex dealings without following proper Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures or issuing bills.

Voice memos and WhatsApp conversations retrieved from the devices of these individuals revealed the modus operandi of the hawala operations, involving transactions worth crores of rupees.

Additional data from over 50 mobiles and electronic devices seized during the searches is currently being analyzed by forensic experts to conduct further operational analysis and identify the larger racket involved in the cross-border hawala transactions and its beneficiaries.

“The investigation into this matter is still ongoing to trace other illegal forex dealers involved in hawala transactions,” the official added.


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