The Enforcement Directorate (ED), has said that it has issued a seizure order, under section 37A of FEMA, freezing a flat in the posh Vasant Kunj area of Delhi and a land in Chauba village in Haryana worth Rs 1.48 crores, in lieu of alleged illegal assets held abroad by Harish Gahlot, who is the brother of Delhi minister Kailash Gahlot. “Investigation was initiated under FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) based on the information received from the Income Tax Department, informing about transfer of money to the tune of Rs 1 crore from India to Dubai through hawala channel by Harish Gahlot, through a Delhi-based hawala dealer, for making advance payments toward purchase of two flats in Dubai in September, 2018,” the ED alleged in a statement.
Premises linked to the family and associates of Kailash Gahlot, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA and Delhi transport minister, were raided by the I-T Department in October 2018. The properties of his brother Harish Gahlot were also searched during this action. The tax department searches were conducted as part of a tax evasion probe against two firms – Brisk Infrastructure and Developers Pvt Ltd and Corporate International Financial Services Limited – that were reportedly operated and owned by the family members of Kailash Gahlot. Kailash Gahlot had denied any wrongdoing and the AAP had called the action ‘political vendetta’.
The ED said its probe revealed that in September, 2018, Harish Gahlot had given Rs 1 crore cash to his younger son Nitesh Gahlot, who is an NRI and studying in Dubai, for sending this money to Dubai allegedly through unauthorised hawala channel, which denotes skirting of the legal banking route to transfer money. “Nitesh Gahlot, through his contact, approached Inderpal Wadhawan, a Delhi-based hawala dealer for transferring the amount. Wadhawan kept Rs 4 lakhs with him as commission and illegally delivered Dirhams equivalent to Rs 96 lakhs in Dubai, which was collected by the friend of Nitesh Gahlot and deposited the said amount in the Dubai bank account of Nitesh Gahlot,” the agency charged.
Out of these funds, the ED said, Nitesh Gahlot made payment to Dubai-based developers for booking of two flats in the name of himself, his father Harish Gahlot, his mother and his elder brother. Investigation also revealed that on September 26, 2018, Harish Gahlot had sent Rs 50 lakhs from his bank in India to the bank account of his son Nitesh Gahlot maintained in Dubai, under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) for the purpose code ‘S0305– Travel for Education Including Fees, Hostel Expenses, etc.’, the ED said. However, the agency said, the said amount was ‘not used for intended purpose but actually used for booking of said two flats in Dubai’.