New Delhi: Cracking down on an international narcotics money laundering network, Enforcement Directorate (ED) today arrested three alleged hawala operatives and seized Rs 78 lakh in cash following searches here and in Amritsar.
ED sleuths launched the operation yesterday after a request in this regard was made by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) a few days back which was simultaneously followed by multiple raids in that country in Clearview and Ingle Farm, Lyndhurst, Templestowe, St Albans, Thomastown and East Melbourne (Victoria) among others.
"ED launched raids at nine locations in both the cities (Delhi and Amritsar). Three people were arrested today under the criminal provisions of the money laundering Act while Rs 78 lakh of suspected Hawala cash has been seized.
"A number of bank accounts relating to these people and having suspected stashed money are under survey and they will be attached soon," ED sources said after the completion of a first-ever anti-drugs international operation.
The agency said it has arrested P S Arora and Gagandeep Singh from Amritsar while Gaurav Gupta has been arrested from Delhi under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Sources said the arrested persons have been allegedly running a "trade-based" money laundering racket across the globe and the kingpins were based in Amritsar.
"The Australian Federal Police approached ED through diplomatic channels a few days back. A special team from the Delhi headquarters of ED carried out the two-day operation. Australian authorities have been informed," they said.
Australian authorities also arrested two people and seized 73,000 Australian dollars.
The magnitude of the operation can be gauged from the fact that a team of 30 ED sleuths camped in Jalandhar and travelled to Amritsar to conduct the raids so that the action remains under wraps till it is completed.
The suspects of the syndicate were allegedly generating crores of rupees through drugs trade using illegal payment gateways to route the black money and its proceeds, said the sources.