ED seizes Rs 7 Crore in raids on mobile gaming company in money laundering case

The Law Enforcement (ED) Directorate on Saturday seized more than Rs 7 crore in cash during raids on the promoters of a mobile game company in Kolkata, West Bengal.

ED said on Saturday it raided six locations of mobile gaming app E-Nuggets and its promoters Aamir Khan and others. He added that counting of seized money is ongoing and Rs 7 crore has so far been counted.

A photograph released by ED showed wads of Rs 500 notes alongside Rs 2,000 and Rs 200 notes stacked on a bed.

The money laundering case currently being investigated by ED stems from an FIR filed by Kolkata Police against the company and its promoters in February 2021. This FIR was registered at Park Street Police Station based on a complaint filed by the authorities of the Federal Bank in court. in Kolkata, ED said.

The ED alleged that Khan, son of businessman Nesar Ahmed Khan, launched the mobile gambling app E-Nuggets to defraud the public.

“During the initial period, users were rewarded with a commission and the wallet balance could be withdrawn without hassle. This gave users confidence, and they started investing larger sums for a higher commission percentage. high and more POs,” ED said.

ED said that after collecting a “beautiful sum” from the public, the removal of the said application was suddenly stopped under one pretext or another, such as system upgrade and investigation by security forces. order.

Official sources said ED is investigating whether this app and its operators have any ties to other “Chinese-controlled” apps that have provided loans at exorbitant rates to gullible people and in many cases , loan takers committed suicide after being harassed by loan operators.

ED probe in Chinese controlled applications

While no connection between the app under investigation in Kolkata and “Chinese-controlled” loan apps has emerged, the angle is being investigated by ED.

The ED is already investigating Chinese loan applications. He recently visited the premises of payment gateway companies Paytm, Razorpay and Cashfree in Bengaluru in the case.

The ED is investigating instant smartphone loans made by a number of apps and the investigation stems from at least 18 FIRs registered by the Bengaluru Police against “numerous entities/persons in relation to their involvement in the extortion and harassment of the public who had availed small amount of loans via mobile applications operated by these entities/persons”.

These instant loan apps bypass the regulatory framework and lend money in the short term. They charge high interest and high processing fees. Later they harass people to repay the amount. At least two dozen people have died by suicide as a result of the alleged harassment, according to reports.

BJP-TMC’s war of words over ED raids

Although no political association has so far emerged in the matter, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in Bengal and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have argued over the raids.

TMC Chief Minister and Mayor of Kolkata, Firhad Hakim, said the raid had no connection to politics and that the TMC had nothing to do with the businessman involved. He, however, questioned whether the ED’s investigations into money laundering cases were limited to states run by non-BJP parties like West Bengal.

Hakim said: “If Rs 7 crore has been discovered, the source of that money should definitely be investigated. But what about Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi who had defrauded more than Rs 7,000 crore? was it not revealed before their departure (India)?”

There are businessmen in the BJP-ruled states and they might have amassed large sums of money as well, he said.

“Does this mean that the raids will be selectively directed against businessmen from non-BJP ruled states like Bengal? This is to deter investors from coming to Bengal for fear of being harassed by central agencies,” Hakim said.

Reacting to Hakim’s comments, BJP state spokesman Samik Bhattacharya claimed such statements come out of fear as people are aware of the ‘ungodly connection’ between money launderers and the TMC. .

“The ED raid is not directed against business in general. It is only against unscrupulous businessmen. Does the former transport minister have something to hide?” Bhattacharya added.

(With PTI inputs)

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