NEW DELHI: The government is reaching out to seven countries to ascertain allegations that some government officials received bribes from meat exporter Moin Qureshi by getting crores of rupees parked “at the choice of their foreign countries” through hawala channels, people familiar with the development said.
While letters rogatory (LRs) to Singapore and Hong Kong have already been issued, the government has accorded approval to the probe agencies to approach the court for issuance of LRs to the UK, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) have conveyed to a local court. Also, LRs to Dubai, Switzerland, France and the US are in progress and will shortly be moved before the court for approval, the agencies have told it.
Both ED and CBI had strongly contested Qureshi’s plea to visit Dubai and France from October 17 to 27 for a world food festival. However, the court had on October 16 allowed Qureshi’s plea in absence of “fresh material” against him. In their replies to the local court — accessed by ET— ED and CBI said Qureshi and his family members held several bank accounts in various countries.
The agencies have given a list of 45 foreign bank accounts “into which proceeds of crime were found transferred” in eight countries. These were the US where he had 20 accounts, France with eight accounts, the UK (seven), Hong Kong (four), Singapore (two), Italy (one), Ireland (one) and the UAE (one).
Qureshi is also “sole beneficiary owner of a foreign company M/s Bulova Holdings Ltd having its office at Offshore Incorporation Centre, City road, Town Tortala, British Virgin Island,” one of the agencies said in its reply. “A house property situated at Chesterfield House, flat number 4, South Audley Street Mayfair, London valued at £3,850,000 was allegedly purchased in name of this company M/s Bulova Holdings Ltd, whose sole beneficiary owner is Moin Qureshi,” it said.
“Hawala operators were used to transfer some of the bribe money to different locations like France (Paris), UK, Dubai and other places.” The agencies have named two alleged hawala operators — Parvez Ali and DS Anand. ED and CBI also alleged that Qureshi laundered money through three foreign entities — M/s Barro Holdings, M/s Bulova Holdings in Seychelles and M/s Noyce Consultancy in Belize. “Respective bank accounts of these companies were opened in BSI, AG Bank in Singapore, Hong Kong and OCBC Bank Singapore,” it said.
The agencies also named a noted French designer who was allegedly paid through hawala channels for designing Qureshi’s properties, including a sprawling bungalow at Chhattarpur in Delhi. Role of employees They have claimed that Qureshi’s employees Aditya Sharma, Ishemet Kaur, Deepali Yadav and Dinesh Gupta in their statements under PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002) have corroborated that they were transferring money to Dubai, the UK, Paris, Italy and US through hawala channels. Whatever money sent for transfer by Qureshi was received at his Karol Bagh office, the agencies said.
“Qureshi has been liaisoning and obtaining illegal money from various persons for getting their work done through public servants,” the reply said. Asthana alleged the proposal was delayed by CBI director Alok Verma. Qureshi was booked by CBI and ED last February and is being probed on charges of paying bribe to government officials and money laundering. Two former CBI directors, AP Singh and Ranjit Singh, are already on the agency’s radar.
Qureshi’s case lies at the heart of the clash between CBI director Verma and special director Asthana, who was booked on October 15 on charges of demanding a bribe from a “suspect” Satish Babu Sana, an associate of Qureshi. Both Verma and Asthana have been sent on leave pending inquiries into allegations of corruption against them.