India: Demonetized Currency Laundering Suspect to Stay in Detention

A Court in Delhi ordered Friday the extension of an Indian businessman’s custody pending further investigation of his alleged role in a demonetized currency laundering scheme worth nearly US$ 8 million.

4603522450 e870af34fc b500 Indian Rupees (Photo: Miran Rijavec, CC BY 2.0)According to The Times Of India, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) – the Indian law enforcement agency responsible for enforcing economic laws suspects Yogesh Mittal of having deposited demonetized money in various accounts of shell companies in November 2016.

Mittal was arrested Monday, a few days after authorities raided his business premises as part of a vast money laundering probe initiated against Delhi lawyer Rohit Tandon and his accomplices.

The sophisticated scheme was conceived after India Prime Minister Narenrda Modi launched in 2016 the demonetization of Rs 1,000 (about US$ 15.5) and Rs 500 (about US$ 8) currency notes in an attempt to reduce bribery and the black economy.

The probe has revealed so far that Tandon hadinstructed several people, including Mittal, to deposit demonetized money into various bank accounts, issue demand drafts under fictitious names, and then quickly cancel them so the money would be returned to the accounts and they could withdraw the new, monetized currency and spend it legally.

Accomplices received a commission of 35% for their services.

The ED had requesteda further 10-day custody, claiming it needed time to analyze seized electronic devices and confront the suspect with bank account holders, but the court granted onlyan additional four days custody.

During the raid on Tandon’s law firm, authorities seized Rs 13.6 crore (over US$ 2 million). Tandon was arrested in December 2016.