Surat: Central Agencies Launch Probe into Diamond Industry Hawala Scam

Prominent Diamond companies involved in Hawala scam, ED and RBI checking bank accounts and export details


Surat : The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), have launched a rigorous investigation into a suspected hawala scam involving prominent diamond companies located in Surat and Mumbai. The saga began when a series of diamond firms were found to be engaged in large-scale exports of rough diamonds to Mauritius, raising eyebrows among financial regulators.

Reports suggest that these diamond companies orchestrated a sophisticated scheme where rough diamonds were exported to Mauritius without undergoing the customary cutting and polishing processes. However, rather than receiving legitimate dollar payments in their bank accounts, the diamond companies allegedly found alternate channels for these transactions. This has given rise to suspicions that the companies might be channeling money through illicit means, potentially participating in a hawala racket.

As of June 2023, an astonishing 2,281 consignments of rough diamonds have been shipped to Mauritius from the bustling diamond hubs of Surat and Mumbai. The strategic choice of Mauritius as the destination for these exports isn’t accidental, given its reputation as a tax haven. It appears that the diamond companies saw an opportunity to capitalize on the lax financial regulations of the island nation and possibly engage in hawala transactions.

Further raising red flags, the Customs department has expressed concerns that these diamond company owners could be operating an illegal hawala network as a response to the ongoing recession within the diamond industry.

While the diamonds are exported to Mauritius, payments are reportedly being funneled through convoluted routes, bypassing direct deposits into the diamond companies’ accounts. This complex money trail has prompted the RBI to intensify its scrutiny over the bank accounts owned and managed by the diamond exporters, in a bid to unravel the true nature of these diamond exports.

One of the most baffling aspects of the case is the export of diamonds to Mauritius, a country where the diamond cutting and polishing industry is virtually nonexistent. This incongruity has confounded central agencies, considering that Surat and Gujarat are globally renowned as key diamond manufacturing centers, responsible for supplying diamonds to various countries worldwide.

Sources close to the investigation have disclosed that the diamonds are being shipped to Mauritius under three distinct Harmonized System Nomenclature (HSN) codes, further emphasizing the intricate and meticulous nature of the operation. As the investigation unfolds, regulatory authorities are keen to ascertain the modus operandi behind these seemingly questionable transactions, as well as the extent of potential involvement by the diamond company owners.