ED books Dubai-based businessman in 100 cr cheating case

Nov 20, 2023 06:20 AM IST

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has registered a money-laundering case against a Dubai-based businessman and his associates based on a ₹100 crore cheating case lodged by Pune police. The accused allegedly collected funds through investment schemes and diverted them abroad through hawala channels. The ED has seized cash and frozen bank balances worth ₹28.60 crore and will provisionally attach them with the investigation. The accused allegedly conducted illegal trades, crypto exchange, wallet services, and forex trading through shell companies.

Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has registered a money-laundering case against a Dubai-based businessman and his associates based on a 100 crore cheating case lodged by Pune police.

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The Pune police’s case alleged that the accused including Dubai-based businessman Vinod Khute collected around 100 crore via investment schemes, which was diverted abroad via hawala channels. The accused lured investors by offering returns of 2-3% per month. Khute and his relatives allegedly control the VIPS Group of Companies and Global Affiliate Business. They allegedly lured more investors through another company, with the promise of high returns on forex trading and parked the funds amassed from investors in foreign countries by way of hawala transactions, according to the police case. The alleged fraud began in 2020.

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The ED had earlier submitted a complaint to Pune police regarding money-laundering based on revelations from its earlier FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) probe against the accused persons and entities, agency sources said. In May, the ED searched the premises of the VIPS Group of Companies and Global Affiliate Business in Pune and Ahmednagar, which led to the seizure of cash as well as bank balance worth 18.54 crore. The agency conducted further searches at Ahmedabad on June 16, which resulted in the seizure of 2 crore in cash and 10.38 crore in bank balance. In all, the agency seized 3.14 crore in cash and froze bank balances worth 28.60 crore. ED sources said that the assets and cash seized/frozen would be provisionally attached with the money-laundering investigation.

The ED’s FEMA probe had found that Khute was the alleged mastermind of various illegal trades, crypto exchange, wallet services and forex trading through one Kana Capital Limited and that the proceeds were being siphoned off through hawala to various foreign countries. During the FEMA investigation, it was revealed that the money so collected from various persons/entities was allegedly deposited in various shell companies with dummy directors and thereafter, it was routed to shell companies located in Maharashtra.

“Vinod Khute’s modus operandi was to collect funds from various investors in shell companies and provide them with equal balance in USD on the platform of Kana Capital Limited for forex trading, commodity trading, among others,” an agency source said.

The ED’s investigation also revealed that collected funds were transferred out of India through various hawala operators against providing them RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement) entries in their shell companies and taking cash from them. The trading platform of Kana Capital in alleged connivance with Khute and VIPS Group of companies provided solutions to various clients to trade forex and commodities at four international stock markets. The company lured them by offering huge returns and conducted weekly training programmes for clients via Zoom, agency sources said. Global Affiliate Business also marketed the brokerage business of Kana Capital, through which various clients traded forex, crypto and stocks, said sources.

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