Bhopal, Jan 19: The Enforcement Directorate today registered a money laundering case in the Katni district hawala racket to probe allegations that stash funds to the tune of Rs 500 crore were illegally routed by operatives using fake bank accounts post demonetisation.
Officials said the agency booked a criminal case under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) taking cognisance of four FIRs registered by Madhya Pradesh Police and a recommendation sent in this regard by the state government to the ED headquarters in Delhi earlier.
The agency, they said, will soon send a team of officials from its offices in Indore and Mumbai to liaise with Katni Police who had registered the first case based on the complaints. The case had assumed political overtones after Katni Superintendent of Police Gaurav Tiwari, considered to be instrumental in taking the probe into the case forward, was transferred on January 9 to Chhindwara by the government. Under the said hawala racket, fake accounts were allegedly opened in a private bank branch under which scrapped old notes were deposited in Katni district.
A state government spokesperson had earlier said: "Some elements have exchanged currency (old notes) through fake bank accounts at a bank at Katni by forging the documents. The state government has decided that the ED should be urged to look into all these cases." Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had said the police have limited powers to probe such matters, but their investigation would continue.
"So, we are informing the ED about these cases," Chouhan had told reporters last week here. Though the state government had termed Tiwari's transfer as a "routine" administrative affair, the development triggered a series of protests in Katni, located about 365 km from here. Congress had alleged that the SP's was transfered to "hush up the scam".
"The name of a cabinet colleague of the chief minister also figured along with other influential people in this money laundering scam exposed by Tiwari," state Congress chief Arun Yadav had alleged. "In a bid to cover up the matter, the state government removed Tiwari from Katni SP's post within six months of this posting," he had charged. A Congress spokesperson had also said that this alleged money laundering "scam" is worth over Rs 500 crore.