The Enforcement Department (ED) recovered cash worth approximately ₹18 crore after raiding six venues in Kolkata in connection with a money laundering investigation linked to a mobile gambling app, officials said.
The mobile app, officials added, was mostly used during the Covid-19 pandemic and tricked several people.
The home of a businessman, Nesar Ahmed Khan, in Garden Reach, southwest Kolkata, was among the premises that were raided.
“ED conducted search operations under the provisions of the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act), 2002 (on 10.09.2022) at six premises in Kolkata, in connection with an investigation relating to the gambling app mobile. Huge cash was found in the premises,” the agency tweeted.
While Nesar handles transportation, his son Amir, who started the app, is the main defendant and has not yet been arrested, ED officials familiar with the investigation said.
“Bundles of cash of all denominations of ₹100 to ₹2,000 were found in a room in the two-story house on Saturday. We had to rely on bank officials and eight banknote counting machines to count the bills. Until around 7:30 p.m. the amount was ₹18 crore,” an official said on condition of anonymity.
The seizure comes more than a month after the emergency seized around ₹50 crore in cash from two apartments of former education minister Partha Chatterjee in connection with an investigation into alleged irregularities in the recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff in public schools. He was later arrested and is currently in jail.
The raids sparked a new war of words between the ruling TMC and the opposition BJP in the state.
TMC Chief Minister and Mayor of Kolkata, Firhad Hakim, said the TMC had nothing to do with the concerned businessman, but alleged that the Center wanted to drive the investors out of the state by spreading the fear of “harassment” by federal agencies.
“It seems that the ED raids are being carried out to send a message to businessmen that if they do business in West Bengal they will be harassed. This is my personal opinion. I feel that efforts are being made to cripple the economy of the state,” he said.
BJP spokesman Samik Bhattacharya dismissed the accusation, saying the raids only targeted unscrupulous businessmen, and asked the TMC chief if he had something to hide.
“The Center has adopted a zero tolerance policy towards corruption and money laundering. It’s the reflection,” he said.