Enforcement Directorate books Bhajiawala for money laundering

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AHMEDABAD: Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday registered a case under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against Surat-based financier Kishore Bhajiawala, from whom, and his two sons, the income tax (I-T) department has recovered Rs10.04 crore in unaccounted for income.

This was after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered an FIR, on December 24, against Bhajiawala and his two sons Jignesh and Vilas, along with a manager of Surat People’s Co-operative Bank.

“Based on the FIR lodged by the CBI against Bhajiawala and two of his sons (Jignesh and Vilas), who were found to be in possession of Rs 1 crore in new notes, ED has lodged a case of money laundering against them,” said an official of ED’s zonal office in the city on Tuesday.

The FIR by CBI was registered under Section 419 (cheating), 420 (cheating and dishonesty), 468 (forgery), and 471 (using forged documents as genuine) of the IPC, and relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
“We will investigate the money laundering aspect, as it has come out that he (Bhajiawala) operated dummy bank accounts. The involvement of bankers will also be probed as Rs 1.05 crore were recovered in new currency notes,” said a senior ED official.
The I-T department had last week seized allegedly unaccounted assets worth Rs10.04 crore from Bhajiawala, after raids were conducted at his premises in Surat.
Out of Rs 10.04 crore recovered, Rs 1.05 crore were in new currency notes. The I-T also recovered bullion worth Rs 1.49 crore, gold jewellery valued at Rs 4.92 crore, other ornaments worth Rs 1.39 crore and silver ingots priced at Rs 1.28 crore, I-T sources had said.
Bhajiawala, whose net worth is estimated around Rs 1,300 crore, owns several row-houses, commercial properties, flats and plots in Surat. Highly placed sources in the I-T department said that he used to get property documents from debtors and would transfer the title to his name after default in repayment.