The Enforcement Directorate (ED) recovered around ₹15 crore in cash in raids at properties linked to a businessman and his aides in Kolkata in a case of financial fraud committed through a mobile app.
The counting of cash was still in progress at the time of filing this report.
ED sleuths launched a search operation at the six properties of Amir Khan, who is said to own an import-export business and his associates. Bundles of notes were found stashed below the bedroom quilt and aluminium cooking containers at his residence in Garden Reach area, as per sources in the agency.
Amir allegedly cheated scores of people through a mobile application named E-Nuggets. At the initial stage, the app rewarded users with commissions and allowed them to withdraw the balance in their online wallet without any hassle, which instilled a sense of confidence among the users.
“They started investing bigger amounts for a greater percentage of commission and a greater number of purchase orders. Further, after collecting a handsome amount from the public, all of a sudden, the withdrawal from the said app was stopped at one or the other pretext viz. system upgradation, an investigation by LEAs etc,” the ED said in a statement.
Later, all the user data were wiped off from the app servers.
As per sources in the ED, Amir failed to give a satisfactory answer about the source of the huge cash and produce any valid document.
The ED searches were based on a tip-off. It recorded an instant case on the basis of an FIR registered at Park Street police station in Kolkata. The police had filed the case based on a complaint filed by the Federal Bank in a city court.
The search operation took a political colour with West Bengal minister and TMC leader Firhad Hakim accusing the Central agency of targeting businessmen in the state.
“They (Central government) are trying to send a message through these raids that you can’t do business here. They want to break down Bengal’s economy,” Hakim said.
The Enforcement Directorate, which is India’s top federal agency to probe financial crimes, has carried out several searches in Bengal during the last few months.
In July, it arrested then minister Partha Chatterjee and his close associate Arpita Mukherjee in a teachers’ recruitment scam. Images of a huge stash of cash recovered from two residences of Arpita, an actor, had shocked the country, with the Opposition BJP alleging widespread corruption under the watch of the Mamata Banerjee government.