Visakhapatnam: The role of some banks in Visakhapatnam city in Andhra Pradesh and Hyderabad in Telanagana will be investigated after the income tax department has pointed to connivance of bank officials with hawala operators.
Following a complaint by the joint director of income tax (investigations), Visakhapatnam, M.V.N. Seshu Bhavannarayana, the MVP Colony police in that city has registered cases against nine persons, including the main accused, Vaddi Mahesh, on Friday night for allegedly laundering Rs 570 crore by floating shell companies in Visakhapatnam and Kolkata and making fraudulent remittances into them through hawala transactions.
The income tax department may not start an investigation against the concerned bank officials itself, but the cases may be referred to other agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate or the Central Bureau of Investigation.
DCP (law and order, north zone) Navin Gulati said the preliminary in-vestigation by the income tax department and the police has revealed that the prime accused in the hawala case, Mahesh, had opened many proprietary concerns/partnership firms in the names of his employees to facilitate transfer of funds.
Mahesh, with the help of his father Srinivasa Rao (the second accused), and seven others, had opened 12 shell companies, including two (Sri Padmapriya Stone Crushing Pvt Ltd, MVP Colony, and Balmukunda Warehouses Pvt Ltd, Pandurangapuram) in Visakhapatnam city and 10 bogus firms in Kolkata and other places. They then opened 30 bank accounts, including 22 accounts in various banks in Visakhapatnam and five accounts in banks in Hyderabad city, in the names of the fictitious companies.
The analysis of the bank accounts pertaining to the accused indicated a total inward domestic remittance of Rs 680.94 crore. Of this, an amount of Rs 569.93 crore was remitted to five foreign companies in China, Singapore and Hong Kong, towards purchase of customised software with the help of forged documents.
The police is saying that at present they are considering the bankers as victims in the hawala case and only further investigation could reveal whether the bankers had colluded with the accused.
The accused have been charged with cheating, forgery, submission of forged documents and conspiracy.
Sources in the I-T department said their preliminary enquiry into the case has indicated that some bank officials may have had a hand in laundering the money after the demonetisation drive....