Shell companies in Singapore linked to money laundering operation in India

India's Enforcement Directorate said 1.23 billion rupees (S$19.9 million) have been frozen. - PHOTO: PIXABAY via The Straits Times/ANN

SINGAPORE (The Straits Tims/ANN): One of India’s law enforcement agencies has uncovered a money laundering operation involving fake invoices issued by purported shell companies in Singapore for software and other services.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which comes under India’s Ministry of Finance, said in a Feb 28 release that shell companies in India had paid the firms in Singapore using monies received from loan, gambling and betting apps controlled by “Chinese entities”.

“ED investigation revealed that proceeds of crime generated from the apps are aggregated and laundered through mule accounts opened in various banks in Kerala state using payment aggregators,” said the directorate, adding that the funds were channelled through multiple shell companies operating in Indian cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai.

The directorate alleged that the firms used NIUM India, a subsidiary of global foreign exchange settlement platform NIUM Singapore, to move the funds, which included cryptocurrencies.

It added that this was done to conceal the monies from monitoring agencies.

ED said 1.23 billion rupees (S$19.9 million), suspected to be proceeds of crime belonging to Singapore shell entities and parked in bank accounts of NIUM India, have been frozen.

This followed raids on Feb 23 and 24 at 10 locations in the cities of Mumbai, Chennai and Kochi, which led the authorities to uncover a cluster of mule accounts in Kerala that were allegedly used to receive the criminal proceeds.

ED officers raided the premises of NIUM India and its directors in Mumbai, and firms including Xoduz Solution, Vikrah Trading Enterprises, Tyrannus Technology and Future Vision Media Solutions.

The investigation was initiated after the police in the states of Kerala and Haryana received reports from victims who were said to be exploited or cheated through the online platforms.

The raids resulted in the recovery and seizure of several digital devices, various documents, and multiple bank accounts used for laundering.

The Straits Times has contacted NIUM for comment. - THE STRAITS TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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