Govt probes money laundering through Hong Kong banks

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has launched a probe after it detected a unique modus operandi to launder money by some importers who submitted fake bills to get bank remittances in their foreign accounts mainly located in Hong Kong.

After months of probe, the DRI claimed that certain traders submitted bills of imports for consignments that never reached Indian shores resulting in loss worth crores of rupees to the exchequer, official sources said.

The DRI has alerted the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on this Trade Based Money Laundering and illegal transfer of funds abroad which "are being noticed more frequently now", they said.

"It is suspected that big corporates are also involved in the Trade Based Money Laundering (TBML). These cases worth several crores are being probed by the agency," a source said.

Acting on an intelligence input, an investigation was launched by the DRI which found that importers were submitting forged bills of entry and other import documents to the banks with an intent to fraudulently remit foreign exchange.

The investigation so far has revealed that huge amount of foreign exchange had been remitted to various overseas accounts located mostly in Hong Kong, the sources said.

The authorities found that in many cases, import documents like copy of bill of entry, invoice and packing list have also been submitted. However, on detailed examination, these import documents were found to be fake and no such import have taken place, they said.

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