KOZHIKODE: Having gone into hiding when the demonetisation juggernaut rolled in, hawala rackets are now back with a bang. Enforcement agencies are once again facing the herculean task of busting illegal currency exchange rackets in the state.
Their probe has revealed hawala agents have been pumping large volumes of new Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes into Kerala. Racketeers have been doing it at a time when the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is struggling to ensure a steady supply of new currency notes.
The police seized over Rs 1.5 crore in new Rs 2,000 notes from two persons at Perinthalmanna in Malappuram on February 6. Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka were the main sources of the new notes. “The accused revealed they had sourced the money from Vijayawada. The case is being pursued by the Income Tax department and the Enforcement Directorate (ED),” said Perinthalmanna DySP Mohana Chandran M P. An ED officer told ‘Express’ illegal currency exchange was in full swing and new notes were being sourced from neighbouring states.
The agencies seized large caches of Rs 2,000 notes from Kannur, Tirur, Perinthalmanna and Aluva between November 2016 and February 2017. Officers said hawala agents had helped black money hoarders exchange banned notes for Rs 2,000 notes at commission rates pegged between 30 to 40 per cent.
“The rackets used the NRI accounts to deposit the old notes till December last,” said an Income Tax officer. “They have an extensive network among non-resident Keralites in Gulf countries. Their relatives in the state were used to deposit the old notes. We are verifying the account details and a plan of action will be put in place soon to check the offenders.”