Enforcement Directorate has arrested Surat-based businessman Kishore Bhajiawala in a money-laundering case registered following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation move. It has been learned that Bhajiawala was arrested under Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Earlier, the FIR registered with the CBI by the Surat Income Tax Department against him stated that his family operated a total of 56 accounts in different banks. In the wake of demonetisation, the Income Tax Department has been busy tracking down several alleged black money hoarders and unaccounted money collectors. One of those to be allegedly linked to that is Bhajiawala who purportedly used dummy bank accounts to launder money and had also used as many as 700 people for depositing and withdrawing money post note ban.
After Bhajiawala was interrogated by CBI and later by Enforcement Directorate, it was found that apart from a large number of bank account, his family also operated bank lockers registered in dummy names. Sources in the I-T department also revealed that Bhajiawala had 27 bank accounts which included around 20 were benami accounts through which he laundered a large chunk of money. However, it has not yet been ascertained how much money he has deposited and withdrawn.
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The CBI also had questioned Bhajiawala’s two sons – Jignesh and Vilas, along with the senior manager of Surat People’s Cooperative Bank (SPCB), Pankaj Bhatt, in the connection with an FIR registered against them for alleged illegal exchange of demonetised currency.
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As per India TV’s report, the FIR stated, I-T had seized Rs 97.84 lakh in Rs 2,000 new currency notes, which was registered in the name of Hitesh Rughani and Damyanti Rughani of Thane but was allegedly operated by Kishore Bhajiyawala’s son, Jignesh. The reports also revealed Rs 2,000 crore as Bhajiawala’s net worth, which included several commercial properties, plots, flats and rowhouses in the city.
Kishor Bhajiawala, who along with his family came to Surat about 31 years ago, ran a tea and bhajiya stall for many years.