Hoarding of the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes seems to have started in the city in right earnest, less than three weeks into the introduction of these bills.
Enforcement Directorate officials raided the chamber of a well-known doctor in Salt Lake on Wednesday and recovered bundles of new notes. Their value had already cros sed Rs 10 lakh by late evening and counting was still on.
Raids also led ED officials to hawala operators in the city who are hoarding these new notes and trying to siphon it off through illegal routes. The raid on the doctor also yielded foreign currency worth lakhs. “There were dollars, euros, dirham and Bangladeshi taka worth Rs 5 lakh in a loc ker in his chamber,” an ED officer said.
“We are looking into the doctor’s source of income. With the government-stipulated withdrawal limits in place, it is difficult for someone to possess so much cash in new currency notes,” the officer said.The ED conducted raids on six premises in Kolkata during the day , including three in Burrabazar, as part of a countrywide operation. According to an ED officer, the hawa la operators in Burrabazar, it se ems, have already changed their modus operandi. “During the raids we learnt that they are taking the help of white-collar professionals like doctors to stash away money,” he said.
The raids will continue on Thursday and the ED will ask the Salt Lake-based doctor to account for the cash. However, his passport has been seized. According to the ED sleuths, the doctor was under the scanner of different agencies for allegedly harbouring some Bangaldeshi nationals with dubious backgrounds.
“We conducted a raid based on specific inputs. We are investigating if the doctor siphoned off money in new currency notes with the help of some Bangladeshi nationals. We will also probe if he was carrying out any illegal trade in foreign currency ,” the ED officer said.
Earlier this month, ED sleuths raided the offices of several money changers in the city, including one at Salt Lake. The agency is also probing into any possible link between the doctor and the money changers.