Mumbai Crime: ED Probes ₹2188 Crore Forex Scam, Alleges Illicit Transactions To UAE Involving Hawala Operator Farooque Shaikh

Mumbai Crime: ED Probes ₹2188 Crore Forex Scam, Alleges Illicit Transactions To UAE Involving Hawala Operator Farooque Shaikh

Shaikh, however, has maintained that he is a small trader running an illegal stall at Musafir Khana and does not even have a bank account.

Charul Shah JoshiUpdated: Saturday, December 23, 2023, 08:28 PM IST
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Mumbai Crime: ED Probes ₹2188 Crore Forex Scam, Alleges Illicit Transactions To UAE Involving Hawala Operator Farooque Shaikh | Representational image

Alleged to be one of the biggest hawala operators, 45-year-old Farooque Shaikh, booked for a forex scam worth Rs 2188 crores, is now being probed for his investments in the UAE. Shaikh, however, has maintained that he is a small trader running an illegal stall at Musafir Khana and does not even have a bank account.

ED probs illegal foreign remittance case

The Enforcement Directorate, which is probing the case of illegal foreign remittance worth Rs 2188.32 crores by Shaikh during the period of 2014 to 2016, claims that Shaikh and his brothers earned a commission worth Rs 100 crores. The agency asserts that Shaikh remitted around Rs 32.28 crores to one shop, namely Trends Creation, before illegally transferring funds to Dubai.

"Before illegally remitting funds to Dubai, these funds were accumulated in various bank accounts in India by way of cash deposits and other transfers to conceal the identity of the persons to whom it belongs. Thereafter, the funds were siphoned off to the accounts under the control of Farooque Shaikh. Farooque Shaikh and his wife Aasma Farooque Shaikh were controlling the business of M/s. Trends Creation LLC, Dubai during that period," the agency claims.

More details of scam

Besides, the agency suspects that the accused may have acquired properties in his name and/or in the name of his spouse or others in the UAE out of the proceeds of crime siphoned off from India. The agency also suspects that "the accused may have further transferred the funds to some other person(s) on behalf of whom the funds were deposited in bank accounts in India to be siphoned off to the UAE for making these funds available in the UAE or outside the UAE as per their needs. The accused and his associates, the owner of these ill-gotten money, may use these funds for some other illegal activities in the UAE, India, or elsewhere."

The agency has forwarded a letter rogatory to the government of the UAE, seeking information on Shaikh's bank accounts, as it suspects that the bank account in the UAE may have been utilized for domestic transfers to other suspected entities in the UAE.

Shaikh claims innocence amid severe allegations

Shaikh, said to be the kingpin of the forex scam, claims that he has nothing to do with the alleged forex scam. In his statement, he claims that "he is engaged in the marketing and trading of gift items and has a gift stall in Musafir Khana, Masjid. He claimed that suppliers visit the stall and give him goods on credit. He further stated that sellers visit his stall for showing him the samples, and if he likes the samples, he would purchase goods. Shaikh said his shop does not have any name nor does he have any bank account.

The investigation by ED conducted so far has revealed that "Farooque had collected huge amounts from certain unidentified persons for illegally siphoning off their undisclosed funds outside India after keeping his commission. He has facilitated these unidentified individuals for parking their concealed ill-gotten money abroad in such a manner that these individuals later could enjoy their money as untainted."

However, the investigation by ED has revealed that Shaikh has created numerous entities, out of which 13 entities are identified. The bank accounts of these companies were used for remittance of funds outside India. Further, Farooque managed and controlled all the bank accounts for multiple routing of the amounts before siphoning them to Hong Kong and UAE in the guise of importing items.

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