The Enforcement Directorate on Sunday said it has arrested an ex-manager of a Maharashtra-based cooperative society for his alleged involvement in laundering crores of funds using the overseas hawala route.
The agency said Machindra Khade was arrested by it under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) for his "involvement in facilitating illegal cash deposits in various bank accounts of the society which were subsequently layered and then fraudulently remitted to Hong Kong by submission of fake import documents in the guise of import of diamond".
It said the accused was former manager of Renukamata Multi-State Cooperative Urban Credit Society.
The agency had begun probing the cooperative society based in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra on the basis of an FIR filed by the state police.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) said its probe found that Khade "opened and operated" multiple bank accounts in the name of persons/company which were used for depositing huge cash in the society's account maintained with banks having core banking and Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) facility.
"In this way, the beneficiaries' transactions were successfully camouflaged as the RTGS/NEFT transactions would invariably reflect the name of the cooperative society.
Khade was instrumental in contacting people and pursuing them in opening bank accounts for monetary consideration," it alleged.
The agency claimed Khade obtained the signatures of account holders on blank RTGS slips that he kept in his custody.
"As and when there was a demand, the accused would take out these blank RTGS slips and fill the amount and beneficiary details in the slips. He used to take commission of Rs 50 per one lakh of such transactions which involved deposit of cash till the stage of RTGS," the ED charged.
"In this manner, funds of Rs 120 crore were deposited in these accounts and then transferred through RTGS/NEFT to different shell companies and finally out of India to Hong Kong-based companies on the strength of forged bills of entry," it said.
Khade at present is in ED custody.