The Changing Face of Hawala Operators

Vivek Agrawal, Mumbai

Intelligence and Law & Order agencies were baffled when they found that underworld is using new technique for sending and receiving their black money to and from Mumbai. The underworld is changing the faces of Hawala operators quickly, so that the police or Intelligence agencies find it increasingly impossible to trace them.

This trend was discovered when Intelligence Bureau (IB) officers started keeping tabs on the activities of some Hawala operators and their money transactions. IB received specific information that a person from Pali District, Rajasthan is working as Hawala operator for D-company from Dhanji Street of Zaveri Market, Mumbai. It also received information regarding another Hawala operator, who was operating from Mira Road area. An IB Officer informed condition of anonymity, ‘These two Hawala operators are not very known figures in the field. They have suddenly appeared on the Hawala scene. They are small fry in this business and D company is only using them.’ It is learnt that IB has leads pertaining to at least 4 more names that have recently surfaced on the Hawala scene. The officer agrees, ‘We are looking for some more new faces in the same field.’

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Sources say that this Marwari Hawala operator is working from his newly bought office at Dhanji Street. He is posing as a gems and jewellery trader. Within a period of eight months, he has bought good amount of property in Bhayander and Dhanji Street. He has bought some farm land in Pali district as well.

It is learnt that a resident of Mutthuswamy Nagar, Jogeshwari, is also involved in the Hawala transactions for D-Company. This person was reportedly working for the Gawli gang earlier. He has rented out his old house of Mutthuswamy Nagar and has shifted to Mira Road. He has bought 4 shops there and has started a cyber café as a front to carry out his operations discreetly. He was a petty scrap dealer and used to buy and sell old newspapers and magazines while in Jogeshwari. Gawli gang members were trying to locate him and made several visit at his Jogeshwari house. When members of the Gawli Sena did not find him there, they threatened his tenant to tell them his whereabouts. Terrorized of receiving the threats every day, the tenant ran away from this house.

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The risks involved in Hawala business have gone up manifold in recent times. All old and reputed Hawala operators have gone underground fearing raids from law enforcement agencies after they uncovered links between Hawala operators and terrorists in J&K, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai with. As the security agencies have trained their guns on the trade, the operators too have taken counter-measures and are deploying young, ambitious and ruthless entrepreneurs for Hawala operations. These new recruits have no police records, are adept at using new technology for illicit money transactions, and smart enough to duck the government agencies.

A source says that these new operators are getting paid very well from their bosses. The Hawala operators are currently charging a premium of Rs.1.50 to Rs.2.50 per dollar for money transactions, depending on as per the quantum, country and time given. If Hawala money is more then Rs.1 Crore, the premium can be as low as 25 to 40 paisa per dollar.

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