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Illegal forex trade on upswing
Published on 6 Mar. 2009 12:27 AM IST
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While holidaying in Goa, British tourist Daniel Clemente discovered a simple way to avoid interminable queues and paperwork while exchanging currency. He familiarized himself with unauthorized dealers — from jewellers to taxi drivers, shack employees to tour guides. Clemente claims that by trading in this manner, he not only earned more, but also saved about Rs 25, which is charged as taxes by recognized forex dealers. Illegal exchange of foreign currency in Goa is a fact. The directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI) in a report to the state government in 2008 emphasized on the “emerging/thriving hawala racket in the state” and said that those involved also had a hand in counterfeit Indian currency, “the quantum of which, though may be diminutive at present but if not impeded, may soon assume gigantic proportions”. The report suggested that unscrupulous individuals involved in accumulating foreign currency from various sources to funnel the hawala system had surfaced in North Goa and claimed to be working for “D” company. Reports from the US suggest that ‘hawala’ money in India is directly linked to financing terrorists. Explaining how the illegal trade functions, a forex analyst said, “The foreigners get 50 paise to Re 1 more than the market value on every pound or dollar exchanged, while the unauthorized dealer earns up to Rs 3, depending on the market situation. The foreign currency is collected daily by small time agents in the state and routed out.” Though intelligence sources reveal that the magnitude of the problem is huge and the illegal trade continues largely unchallenged in the state, former DGP B S Brar said, “Such activities have not come to our notice.” However, police records reveal that between January 2007 and December 2008, the number of cases of duplication or counterfeiting of currency reported was 32. Of these, only five were detected and chargesheets filed. Police claim that a majority of such cases were based on complaints by banks discovering fake notes in their treasury. Police sources said probes into counterfeit notes revealed a Bangladeshi link but investigations reached a “dead end” as those arrested for possession of fake notes were poor labourers sent to the state to act as couriers. The persons arrested are mere couriers or end beneficiaries.” (Name of tourist changed on request)

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