50 bank branches under ED lens for money laundering

Tags: Currency
The big bank deposits post-demonetisation of high value notes have come under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which has sought reports from 50 bank branches across major cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Channai, to detect possible financial crimes.

The massive crackdown has come after reports that cash hoarders laundered their money through hawala and other illegal channels.

Official sources said teams comprising Enforcement Directorate officials carried out surprise searches across bank branches on Wednesday morning at over 50 branches of at least 10 banks. The bank branches belong to both public and private sector. The sleuths of the investigating agency came along with banking auditors to scan transaction records and account statements after getting vital inputs involving the fraud.

Sources said the officials had leads about huge cash deposited in banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes at these branches.

As huge deposits were made in single as well as staggerd manner in these bank branches it created suspicion.

Contrary to government expectations that a large amount of banned notes, as much as Rs 3 lakh crore, may not come to the banking system there has been huge deposits in bank accounts over the last one month of demonetisation.

As per latest figures, banks have already received nearly Rs 11.85 lakh crore or 76 per cent of junked notes. With 25 days yet to go for depositing the old notes of high denomination, experts have said most of the notes could come back questioning the efficacy of government move to curb black money.

Alarmed by this, income tax department and other investigating agencies have launched the crackdown. In its search operations at bank branches, the ED officials sought transaction records of various accounts post-November 8.

“Instructions have been issued to the investigating teams to ensure that regular operations and customer dealings are not affected due to this,” the sources said.

The ED, tasked with enforcing important laws to check financial crimes--Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA)--has sourced suspicious transaction reports (STRs) and cash transaction reports (CTRs) of the banks from various financial intelligence agencies.

The income tax department on Tuesday said it had referred over 30 cases to investigating agencies Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the CBI to examine the criminal conduct for immediate necessary action.

Sources said the officials had leads about huge cash deposited in banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes at these branches. As huge deposits were made in single as well as staggerd manner in these bank branches it created suspicion.

Contrary to expectations that a large amount of banned notes, Rs 3 lakh crore, may not come to the banking system there has been huge deposits in bank accounts since November 8.

As per latest figures, banks have received nearly Rs 11.85 lakh crore or 76 per cent of junked notes. With 25 days yet to go for depositing the old notes, experts said most of the notes could return questioning the eff­i­cacy of government move.

Alarmed by this, income tax department and other investigating agencies have launched the crackdown.

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