About 146 kg of gold jewellery worth over Rs 82 crore has been seized by the ED after it raided the premises of a Hyderabad-based jewellery group and its associates in connection with a post demonetisation money laundering case, the agency said today.
It said the searches were conducted at the showrooms of Musaddilal Jewellers at Hyderabad and Vijaywada, its promoter Kailash Gupta, a company named Balaji Gold and its partner Pavan Agarwal, another company Ashta Laxmi Gold, its proprietor Neel Sunder Tharad and chartered accountant Sanjay Sarda over the last few days.
"For tracing the proceeds of crime, simultaneous searches were conducted in the premises of the accused persons which resulted in the seizure of 145.89 kg of gold jewellery worth Rs 82.11 crore," the Enforcement Directorate said in a statement.
The agency had filed a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against these people based on an FIR of the Telangana Police and a complaint of the Income Tax Department for "blatantly misusing the scheme of demonetisation by illegally depositing huge amounts of unaccounted demonetised cash in their accounts."
"For this purpose, they (accused) fraudulently created around 5,200 back-dated fabricated advance sale receipts dated November 8, 2016 for an amount less than Rs 2 lakh to avoid furnishing PAN (permanent account number) details," the agency said.
Describing the alleged modus operandi deployed in the case, the statement said that soon after after the notes ban was announced, the accused "illegally deposited Rs 110.85 crore in their bank account falsely claiming that within a few hours they had received advances of less than Rs 2 lakh each from more than 5,200 customers on the night of November 8, 2016 for purchase of gold and jewellery from their firms".
The ED said all these invoices were "bogus."
It also analysed CCTV footage of the firms'' offices and that of the neighbourhood that showed that "no such activity" of purchase of gold was carried out during that period.
It said that out of the total Rs 110.85 crore alleged illegal funds, about Rs 80 crore was transferred to the bank accounts of various gold and bullion dealers like Ashta Lakshmi Gold, Shri Balaji Gold and others on the pretext of purchase of gold.
"The accused have admitted that they created fake sale invoices. The accused failed to give any satisfactory account of the source of this illegal cash and also failed to provide the details of the accounts regarding the utilisation of about 270 kg of gold purchased out of this money," the ED alleged.
The demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 was declared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the night of November 8, 2016.