Nashik onion traders’ hawala deals, Dubai links un­cov­ered

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Tushar.Pawar @times­group.com

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.

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