The Enforcement Directorate has arrested Surat-based financer Kishore Bhajiawala on money laundering charges. He is accused of illegal conversion of ₹ 1 crore old notes into new, using 1,000 fake IDs.
As per reports, “Jignesh Kishorebhai Bhajiawala (41) is under arrest as per provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) at about 11:45 PM last night”. He will be produced in court today.
The Enforcement Directorate had not only registered a criminal FIR against Bhajiawala but also against some of his family members based on a CBI FIR against him. The CBI FIR was booked after the Income Tax department first conducted searches and seized gold and cash from his premises as part of their operation in December last year to check black money post the demonetisation. In December 2016, the Surat Income Tax Department registered a FIR with the CBI, had claimed that Bhajiawala’s family operated 56 accounts in different banks.
Alleged came to Gujrat 31 years ago with his family and ran a tea and bhajiya business for years in Udhna. His business soon picked pace and he later started lending money to people on interest before moving on to the gold business in 2007. The investigating agencies started to suspect Bhajiawala, as he escalated from a small businessman to a financer based in Gujrat, the diamond city.
“The Bhajiawala family has converted a huge amount of their unaccounted money, post demonetisation, into new high denomination currency and other valuables through collusion with bank officials and private persons by impersonating, forgery and by using forged documents.
“An amount of over Rs 1.02 crore in new currency was seized by the I-T department from his premises during searches at his home, shop and bank lockers held by them. It was also found that the accused had hired several bank lockers in benami names to stash their unaccounted assets,” the ED alleged.
The I-T department had seized from him ₹1,45,50,800 in currency notes, gold worth ₹1,48,88,133, gold jewelry worth ₹4,92,96,314, diamond jewelry worth ₹1,39,34,580, and silver ingots worth ₹77,81,800. And hence the case was later transferred to the Crime Branch. Bhajiawala’s net worth is around ₹2,000 crore.