Cycle exporter’s unit sealed, ‘hawala’ racket suspected

  • Arjun Sharma and Sumeer Singh, Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
  • Updated: Oct 17, 2014 09:51 IST

Officials of the enforcement directorate (ED) have retrieved several emails pertaining to dubious transactions that were reportedly deleted by employees of a local bicycle parts manufacturing firm whose premises, located at Focal Point, were raided on Wednesday and later sealed.

During the operation, ED sleuths confiscated Rs 55 lakh in unaccounted cash and are now scrutinising documents that were recovered from the firm’s office.

The company, Nice Exporters, which is suspected to have been involved in a ‘hawala’ (money laundering) transactions through various channels, is engaged in exporting bicycle components to African countries and the UAE. It earlier exported its goods to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The enforcement directorate has reason to believe the firm also sold its products within the country and showed them as exports to claim export subsidy from the central government.

The company is also suspected to have claimed a 6% tax refund for fake export transactions.

According to sources, while some company employees had deleted specific emails from office computers, the directorate’s cyber experts were able to retrieve all of them.

“These emails contain significant information about transactions, both overseas and domestic, conducted by the firm. They could also help in exposing a bigger nexus between export businesses in Ludhiana,” the sources added.

The raids at the company’s office were conducted on the instructions of ED joint director Girish Bali.

However, the firm’s owner was not present at the scene at the time. The sources said operation began after ED sleuths got a tipoff from a local foreign exchange dealer, Happy Forex (which is also now under the scanner), that a ‘hawala’ deal of at least Rs 11 crore had gone through recently.

Meanwhile, the enforcement directorate is keeping a close watch on several other bicycle parts exporters in the city, many of which could be raided soon.

On the other hand, the United Cycle & Parts Manufacturer Association (UCPMA), an umbrella body of the local bicycle industry, has stated its members were being “unduly harassed” by the state government.

“The government is unneccesarily creating problems for the city’s bicycle industry that is facing a decline in fortunes. Such arbitrary raids are a clear message that the government is bent on stymying rather than facilitating industrial growth in the state,” Charanjit Singh Vishivkarma, the association’s president, said.

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