KOLKATA:About Rs 1,000 crore seized by the Income Tax department and Enforcement Directorate during raids here and in Siliguri in north Bengal has been linked to a lottery scam in South India and to fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s gang.
Income Tax department sources said that at New Alipore here, two flats belonging to Pranab Das and Goutam Das were rented by a person called S Nagarajan’s agents, S Patrick and X Alexander. Nagarajan was based in Tamil Nadu. They had fled before the raids, during which 11 trolley bags were found with Rs 21 crore.
Sleuths said Nagarajan, during the last eight years, had been spreading his network and was arrested several times. He has two shops selling lottery tickets here.
About three months ago, the MHA began a probe after clues to a hawala racket in West Bengal were found linked to Dawood’s gang. The MHA alerted the Finance Ministry after which central agencies started probing it. They received information about people from South India running offices from their homes in Bengal. The MHA first got a whiff of the scandal after five persons were arrested from Asansol and Ranigunje in Burdwan district a year ago following a complaint to the cyber cell in Bhopal, MP.
As part of the scam, several youth were being prodded to part with key documents to open bank accounts in their name and were given money, though they did not know how and why the accounts were operated. The trapped individuals said they had won a lottery and after obtaining their bank account details, they had been cheated. The large amounts thus collected were sent through hawala transactions to Saudi Arabia. Over the last few years, around Rs 5,000 crore has been sent the through hawala route to Karachi, where Dawood is based, the sleuths ascertained. They traced 1,175 mobile and telephone numbers in Pakistan and 305 numbers in India and from the conversations recorded they confirmed the involvement of Dawood’s men.
Before beginning the raids, the sleuths, accompanied by officers of the anti-terror STF, conducted reconnaissance of the areas where the culprits had rented the flats. Other than the huge amount of cash, they discovered that over 150 bank accounts in fake names in West Bengal had been used and majority were in five nationalised banks. They suspected that there were around 1,200 such bank accounts across the country. The sleuths also believed that Nagarajan ran a fake lottery racket and cheated the public of several thousand crores in the eastern and northeastern parts of the country.