Nashik onion traders’ hawala deals, Dubai links uncovered
Nashik: After accusations of hoarding and black marketing, allegations of hawala transactions and links with Dubai continue to sting the prominent onion traders in Nashik.
The income tax (I-T) department, which raided seven big onion traders in Nashik district, now has evidence of their involvement in hawala transactions with Dubai connections. During the searches, conducted over two days, disproportionate assets were recovered from the traders. Moreover, the I-T officials also unearthed evidence of the traders offering cash loans with interest rates of up to 3% per month.
On Thursday, I-T sleuths had started raiding the offices, godowns and homes of seven major traders. The searches were conducted at 24 locations by 24 teams comprising 150 officials from the I-T departments of Thane, Pune, Aurangabad and Nashik. I-T department sources told TOI, “We recovered evidence proving that the traders are involved in hawala transaction with links to Dubai… The traders used to show export and import of onions. However, no actual export or import took place, though money was transferred.” The sources did not reveal how many of the seven raided traders were involved in hawala.
“We did not find unaccounted cash... but we did find unaccounted assets in the form of properties. These onion traders have assets like luxurious homes and offices in Nashik and other places,” the sources said. “We have also found evidences that these onion traders were offering cash loans with interest rates of up to 3% per month,” they added. The government had stepped in when the average wholesale onion price shot up from Rs 450 per quintal to Rs 2,450 per quintal at Lasalgaon in just the past two months. Retail onion prices had also gone up from Rs 1015 per kg to nearly Rs 40-50 per kg in several cities.
Finally, after instructions from the PMO, a two-member team from the Union ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution visited Lasalgaon on August 18 to investigate the fluctuation in the wholesale prices, and to check if the farmers were the real beneficiaries of the price rise.