The Financial Intelligence Unit is collecting information about 500 shell companies based out of Kolkata which were allegedly used by real estate developer Paras Mal Lodha to convert and launder demonetised notes. The FIU is in the process of gathering information about 500 accounts which were used to launder money, top officials informed.
Investigations found that Lodha had allegedly deposited huge chunks of cash in these accounts under fictitious names. The FIU would prepare a report based on the special request and submitted to the investigating agency.
Lodha was arrested in Mumbai by the Enforcement Directorate on December 22, 2016. The arrest was made after the agency found large chunks of cash in new notes at a Delhi firm that belonged to Chennai-based businessman, Sekhar Reddy and an advocate Rohit Tandon.
We are investigating and trying to find out who were linked to these shell companies, the official added. The ED is also in the process of questioning Reddy to ascertain a money trail of Rs 34 crore. The ED has registered cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The money trail would be crucial to the probe. The agencies have sought for a forensic report on the computer peripherals. This would give a clear picture about the people involved in this racket. The racket extends from Kolkata to Chennai and there were several persons involved.
Further the agencies would also get to the trail to find out if the likes of Lodha and Reddy were moving money on other people's behalf. Several politicians from Tamil Nadu and other states are likely to come under the scanner during the probe, an ED official said.
The ED learnt that Lodha would move the money at the behest of other people. He would in turn charge a commission of 20 per cent to convert the old currency into new ones. During his questioning he said that he had exchanged currency worth Rs 25 crore. The ED said that the involvement of Lodha in this racket had frustrated the government's demonetisation policy.