Teams of the enforcement directorate (ED) conducted raids on the premises of three Jalandhar-based immigration firms on Tuesday in connection with alleged Hawala transactions.
Almost a week after 150 Indians, including several Punjabi youths, were deported for illegally entering into US, Jalandhar-based zonal unit of ED (Enforcement Directorate) ) raided three prominent immigration agents.
Hawala money is transferred via a network of hawala brokers or hawaladars. It is the transfer of money without actually moving it. In fact, a successful definition of the hawala system that is used is "money transfer without money movement". Hawala transactions are being used in white-collared crimes and financial frauds
The action on these agents was still on till the filing of this report and according to sources in the department, so far the teams of ED have seized Rs 58 lakh in cash in Indian and foreign currency. In addition to this, huge cache of documents too have been recovered which have vital information regarding hawala transactions worth crores made by these agents to their associates in Dubai who used to transfer this money after taking their cut to agents based in other countries who facilitated the movement of the people being sent abroad. The action conducted on the immigration agents directly led to panic amongst other agents in the trade as till now, ED had only been striking hawala agents and this was the first time that immigration agents were raided by the agency.
The agency started raids at the premises of AIR Corporate, Gurukul Gobal and TNS Immigration during the wee hours which continued throughout the day.
The agency seized around ₹50 lakh in cash, including foreign currency, from the owners of the three firms. The ED has been probing the allegations of hawala money transactions for illegal immigration of people.
Officials, seeking anonymity, said the action came in the wake of deportation of hundreds of illegal immigrants from the United States and Mexico.
The officials said they have collected documents and digital record related to the alleged hawala transactions done by these firms during the past some months.
Punjab emerging as a major hub for hawala transactions
According to reports, nearly 10 per cent of all hawala money coming into the country is meant for terror funding. Gold smuggling through hawala transactions has also seen an upward climb.
As per a report of 2013, Punjab has emerged as a major centre for hawala transactions, with dealers expanding their network to all big cities in the state.