Key accused in ₹1,600-crore money laundering case held

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested one of the kingpins of the alleged money laundering case reported in Visakhapatnam in 2017.

The accused, identified as Bhimendra Kumar Goyal alias B.K. Goyal alias Munna Goyal, had been a fugitive since long and he was arrested in Singapore a few days ago and lodged in the Tihar Jail. The ED has brought Goyal to Visakhapatnam after its plea seeking a custody for five days was granted.

In 2017, income tax officials in Visakhapatnam suspected that certain companies in the State were indulging in heavy transactions of foreign exchange. A team led by then Joint Director (investigation) of I-T Department M.V.N. Seshu Bhavanarayana zeroed down on one Vaddi Mahesh.

Investigations revealed that Mahesh, a person with fake identities, and eight others, were allegedly involved in the money laundering racket that operated in West Godavari, Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam districts and Kolkata. The estimated money laundered was put at ₹1,600 crore.

The case was transferred to the AP CID after an FIR was lodged at MVP police station. The ED took up the case after a request of the State government, as the allegations were related to transactions pan India and globe.

Modus operandi

“During questioning, Vaddi Mahesh admitted that he was acting on the instructions of Goyal. He was only the front of the global money laundering racket,” said Mr. Bhavanarayana.

People with huge black money allegedly parked their funds with Goyal, who used people such as Mahesh to float shell companies in India and in countries such as Singapore and Honk Kong. He transferred huge sums to these firms in the guise of procuring customised software. But, neither had the companies existed nor the software in reality, said the officials.

The money after reaching the companies were allegedly either channelled back or invested in other firms to re-route them to the people who had parked their funds with Goyal.

Investigations revealed that Mahesh and his gang had opened 12 shell companies and were operating 30 fictitious accounts. They had laundered close to ₹1600 crore since 2013 by remitting to five companies— one in China, three in Singapore and one in Hong Kong.

It is learnt that along with Goyal, one more kingpin Jain was arrested in August first week.

The officials said the gang allegedly laundered about ₹1,000 crore between 2013 and 2015, and ₹600 crore was transferred from 2015 to 2016.

Suspicious transactions

Investigation by the AP CID revealed that ₹800 crore was shipped out to foreign countries from one single account in a public sector bank located on the Netaji Subha Chandra Bose Road in Kolkata in 2016 and ₹90 crore was deposited in the same account in a day. But the racket was hit post demonetisation.

According to a senior officer of the AP CID, Mahesh, his father Vaddi Srinivas and two cousins Achanta Harish and Achanta Rajesh were allegedly running the show for Goyal in South India on a commission of 85 paisa for every US dollar.

Sources in the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) said Goyal was also allegedly involved in smuggling and cheated the customs officials by under-valuing goods.

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