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 ED arrests Astral Exim &Co owner under PMLA
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ED arrests Astral Exim &Co owner under PMLA

Agency News

New Delhi, Jul 5 : Directorate of Enforcement (ED) has arrested Astral Exim & Co’s owner Muhammed Riyaz alias Mohammed Sammy for ‘trade based money-laundering’ under the provisions of Prevention of Money-Laundering Act (PMLA), an official statement said here on Friday.

Accused Riyaz was arrested under PMLA, produced before the Chennai Special Court and was remanded to judicial custody till July 18 and lodged in Chennai Central Prison.

ED initiated enquiry based on the specific instruction from the Central Vigilance Commission after the CBI filed an FIR for fraudulent high value forex outward remittances and transactions exceeding Rs 3500 crore using 57 Shell entities current opened at Syndicate Bank, Armenian Street Branch, Chennai.Investigation revealed that the accused operated an array of accounts in the assumed names at various banks like Syndicate Bank, Ratnakar Bank Limited, Karur Vysya Bank, ICICI Bank.

The modus operandi used by the accused was to open current account in the name of fictitious business entity at first instance, based on fabricated identity documents obtained by the individual.

As a subsequent move, amounts were poured into the accounts operated in complete anonymity from various other accounts maintained on pan India basis through electronic transfers.

As the third and the final move, fabricated documents were submitted before the banks, made them to send the foreign exchange outside the Country under the guise of advance payments against imports.

During the investigation of one shell entity conducted by ED, it was found that the accused, acting in complete anonymity, integrated a sum of Rs 14.5 crore collected from various persons on a Pan India basis within a short span of two months."The entire operation was synchronized in such a way that the funds received were immediately transferred to various business entities in Hong Kong through wire transfer to the extent of US Dollars 2,184,785.00, an equivalent to Rs 14.5 crore, based on fabricated documents", the probe agency said.

The details of various foreign exchange transfers in respect of other banks are also under probe, added the Agency.

ED has recovered multiple identity documents from the residential premises of the individual including PAN cards, Driving Licenses in assumed names.During last year, the Chennai office of the probing agency Directorate of Enforcement, arrested three persons involved in the same money laundering case operated through three other Shell entities doing Trade Based Money Laundering. All the three arrested as still in judicial custody.Further investigation is in progress, ED said.(UNI)