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Hawala network ticking through diplomatic channel: ED

 Hawala network ticking through diplomatic channel: ED

KOCHI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) probing the money trail behind smuggling of gold through diplomatic channel has found that financing of the illegal activity was done through hawala transactions. ED also found that consignments were sent from Dubai using the address of several persons and on two occasions it was sent by Faisal Fareed of Kaipamangalam.

According to ED, the primary purpose of smuggling gold was to compensate for the money that was given by jewellers to keep the hawala network ticking. ED estimates that huge quantities of gold are supplied to jewellers in exchange for money they give to hawala agents to run the network.

“When someone plans to send money illegally from abroad, they approach the hawala agents there. The hawala agents contact their counterparts here. However, the agents in Kerala find hawala funds through jewellers. It is the jewellers who pay the amount to the agent here. In return, the jewellers are given smuggled gold. Usually, the money collected by jewellers after selling gold without a bill is used for such purpose,” sources said.

For sending Rs 50,000, they use the code ‘50’ omitting the last three zeros. For money above Rs 1 lakh they use the term ‘box.’ If it is Rs 10 lakh, the code will be 10 boxes. There are also reverse hawala transactions taking place when funds are sent abroad from India through illegal channels. The smuggling of foreign currencies from India to foreign countries is a part of reverse hawala. It takes less than an hour to complete the entire hawala transaction.

Meanwhile, ED has found that several persons in Dubai are involved in the case. “The accused persons successfully smuggled gold on 20 occasions. It was during the 21st attempt that the consignment was intercepted.  It was only in 19th and 21st attempts that the address of Faisal Fareed was used for sending gold through diplomatic channel from Dubai. He might have received some money for sending the gold. But it is clear that there is an organised network involving several persons in Dubai behind the smuggling,” an official said.

The ED suspects that diplomats in the UAE consulate in Thiruvanan-thapuram were not aware of gold smuggling. “They were told that some duty-free goods will be brought via diplomatic baggage for which a small amount was paid to them. We don’t think they knew it was gold in the consignment sent using their addresses. Statements of diplomats are required to know more details,” an official said.

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