ED has arrested a Kolkata-based businessman in New Delhi for alleged illegal conversion of over Rs 25 crore in old currency into new notes as part of its money laundering probe in two high-profile black money cases in the wake of demonetisation.
Officials identified the businessman as Paras Mal Lodha and said he was involved in a “deep-rooted conspiracy” in this case and that he was charging a commission “at the rate of 15-20 per cent” to convert the money.
Lodha (62) was arrested by the agency late yesterday in “connection with the recovery of large amount in new currency notes from a company belonging to Advocate Rohit Tandon of T and T law firm (in Delhi) and J Shekhar Reddy of Chennai”.
He was brought to Delhi after the ED “intercepted and detained” him at the Mumbai airport when he was about to take a flight to Malaysia.
The agency had issued a look out circular against Lodha after his name cropped up in the two high-profile cases being probed by at least four lead agencies of the country, including ED, I-T department, CBI and Delhi Police.
While the Reddy case pertains to Chennai where the Income Tax department has made the biggest detection of unaccounted income of over Rs 142 crore, the Delhi Police and the I-T department had seized Rs 13.6 crore from the law firm here early this month.
Reddy was yesterday arrested by the CBI.
“The new currency notes which were entrusted to banks and
were meant to be delivered to public/bank account holders appear to have been misappropriated by these persons for their monetary gains. He (Lodha) along with other accused persons, including some international hawala operators, is involved in the process of large-scale money laundering.
“It appears that these new currency notes were acquired illegally through unauthorised channels with possible collusion with bank officials as recovery of such huge quantity of new currency notes is not possible under existing guidelines and restrictions of government/Reserve Bank of India on withdrawal of cash,” the agency said in a statement.
It added that investigation revealed that “the said new currency was arranged and sent by Lodha who was involved in the activity of monetising the demonetised currency on commission basis with help of other associates”.
The agency said Lodha admitted that “post demonetisation he and his associates had converted old currency of at least Rs 25 crore into new currency notes for commission at the rate of 15-20 per cent”.
Officials said the multiple agencies working on these two cases, involving high-ranking individuals, are joining dots of the investigations to prepare a water tight case against those who have either hoarded or generated black funds in the wake of the November 8 currency scrap.