The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday, February 14, claimed to have busted a hawala and money laundering racket linked to the smuggling of raw human hair from India to China via Myanmar, after it conducted multiple raids and froze as many as 139 bank accounts. The federal probe agency said it stumbled across the alleged illegal cross-border trade while investigating an earlier "fund trail" of online Chinese betting mobile applications. Rs 1.20 crore cash was seized during the raid, it said.
The ED, as per a statement, first got an FIR registered with the Hyderabad Police and later conducted raids for two days (February 9-10) at multiple locations, from Hyderabad to Aizawl and the border town of Champai in Mizoram. The smuggling of raw human hair from India to Myanmar was being undertaken through illegal land routes via Mizoram leading to generation of huge cash, it said.
Large part of cash thus generated was used for making illegal compensatory payments through unauthorised channels for smuggled hair and under-valued exports of human hair from entities spread across India, the agency stated. The Hyderabad Police FIR alleged that a company named Nayla Family Exports Private Limited, whose director is Mohammed Ibrahim Patel, exported human hairs by using benami Import Export Code (IEC) of multiple local proprietary firms.
Also, it said, large-scale domestic sale of raw human hair was taking place from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to Guwahati and Kolkata. All this domestically sold hair was ultimately finding its way to China via Myanmar and sale proceeds were surprisingly being received from shell bank accounts in Mizoram, it said.
The agency said it has zeroed in on some shell or dummy entities based in Mizoram which were taking in hundreds of crores of cash deposits and then remitting the deposited amount to several hair merchants spread across India. The shell companies, as per the ED statement, are St Mary's Gem Industries, Champai; Sun Moon Human Hair, Champai; and Thari Enterprises Aizawl.
Lucas Thangmangliana, a resident of the remote Champai district, is the chief facilitator of this mammoth hawala operation , the ED said. The agency said it has seized incriminating documents, hand-written diaries, digital devices and recovered Rs 1.20 crore cash during the raids. The ED has identified various suspicious bank accounts which were being used for huge cash deposits. The agency has issued freezing orders under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against 139 such accounts, it said, adding the statements of bankers and account holders are being recorded.