Investigations into the recent hawala bust in West Bengal relating to money generated through the lottery scam has revealed that the racketeers were operating through 163 bank accounts. What is more interesting is that these bank accounts were taken on hire by the lottery kingpins.
All the 163 bank accounts in operation to first park the money and then launder it in phases were hired from persons who would charge the kingpins a certain amount of money.
The account holders would charge a monthly rent while giving out their accounts on hire. The highest number of bank accounts on hire were in Kerala followed by Odisha, investigations have revealed.
Last week the Income Tax Department and the Enforcement Directorate had conducted a series of raids in West Bengal and found Rs 70 crore in cash. All the cash was stacked up in gunny sacks and were meant to be sent out of the country through a hawala channel.
Accounts for hire
Investigations that going on reveal that all these accounts were taken on hire by the lottery scam kingpin. The lottery scam is being run from Tamil Nadu by its main operative Santiago Martin. Investigations found that 81 of these accounts were being operated out of Kerala followed by 28 in Tamil Nadu.
In Odisha, 46 accounts were hired while in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka it was 18 and 8 respectively. There is no particular pattern that was followed when opening the bank accounts. Such accounts were found in both private and public sector banks.
Investigations found that for every Rs 1,000, a rent of Rs 100 was paid to the original account holder.
This worked as a perfect mask to dodge the trail of the money. The money that was generated out of the lottery scam would be parked in these accounts for over a period of time.
When the demand to transfer the money overseas was made, the account holder would be told to withdraw the money. The money would then be collected by a middle man and then taken to West Bengal and stocked up in gunny sacks.
Moving the money out of India
Once the money was withdrawn from the accounts, it would be stocked up in gunny sacks and then transported to West Bengal. Here it would be stored in go-downs operated by the lottery kingpins before the hawala agent would come in contact with them.
Money would then be transferred out of West Bengal by the hawala agents to various countries. However to be on the safer side, the money transactions at one time would not exceed Rs 1 crore.
Various transactions would be made over a period of time, investigations also revealed.