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ED unearths gold-smuggling hawala racket in multi-city operation; seizes cash, gold

ED unearths gold-smuggling hawala racket in multi-city operation; seizes cash, gold
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New Delhi: Unaccounted cash worth Rs 3.75 crore and over 39 kg of gold and silver have been seized after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted raids in multiple cities against jewellers associated with an alleged gold-smuggling hawala racket, the probe agency said on Monday.

The raids were conducted at locations in Jaipur, Kolkata and Chennai under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), with the ED claiming that the action 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, adding those were then dispatched to various domestic markets by different modes of transportation to escape the scanner of 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 probe agency said.

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