Hyderabad: A major hawala racket was busted here on Monday with the arrest of six persons and seizure of Rs 1.4 crore from them.
The racket, which was tracked and exposed by the North Zone Task Force, was being operated from the Mahalaxmi Gems and Jewellers on Abid Road here.
According to the police, the network depended heavily on messages circulated via WhatsApp with brokers using a code of identification with a unique currency serial number.
The arrested persons were identified as Jayesh Kumar Patel alias Atul, the owner of Mahalaxmi Gems and Jewellers at Chirag Ali Lane; his employees V. Bhamarsinh Chauhan and Patel Pradeep Kumar; Ganesh Satyanarayan, a resident of Shahinayathgunj and a hawala money collection agent for Rayalaseema Steel Re-Rolling Mills Private Limited; B Vigneshwar of Habeebnagar and a collection agent for Scan Energy and Power Limited; and Arun Kumar of Somajiguda who was working as Chief Financial Officer for Scan Energy and Power Limited.
According to police, Atul, a native of Gujarat had migrated to Hyderabad in 2009, and was staying with his family on Abid Road area.
“He got to know several hawala money transfer agents across the country and developed contacts. He was aware that the hawala business was profitable and established a hawala money transfer office here,” Hyderabad Police Commissioner V V Srinivasa Rao told the media, adding that Atul hired employees and was running the racket clandestinely, supplying money on a commission basis at the rate of 0.6 to 0.8 per cent.
The contacts were spread across the country, particularly in metropolitan cities with WhatsApp being their mode of communication.
“He maintained a code of identification with a unique currency serial number,” the Commissioner said, adding that the Income Tax Department had earlier booked a case against Atul in 2014.
Police said surveillance was kept on the suspects with Vigneshwar being the first to be caught while carrying Rs 65 lakh on his bike. He confessed the cash was to be delivered to Scan Energy and Power Limited at Road No 7, Banjara Hills.
Subsequently, Satyanarayan was caught while carrying Rs 10 lakh. He was to deliver it to Rayalaseema Steel Re-Rolling Mills Private Limited at Abid Road area.
Atul’s office was then raided and Rs 18.4 lakh was seized along with a currency counting machine while he and his employees were arrested. The office of Scan Energy Limited at Road No 7, Banjara Hills was also raided, during which Rs 47.3 lakh was seized and Arun Kumar was nabbed.
The arrested persons and the cash were handed over to the Income Tax Department for further probe.