The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is probing the use of the darknet and cryptocurrencies by Dawood Ibrahim as there are suspicions that the fugitive don has turned to digital tools to use the proceeds of crime raised through money laundering, Economic Times reported.
The people privy to the details of the probe say Ibrahim has been found to be actively involved in various illicit businesses, including betting, extortion and drug trafficking, reported ET.
“A large amount of the crime proceeds raised through these illegal businesses has been invested to buy cryptocurrencies and purchase real estate,” said one of the officials, who wanted to stay anonymous. “Money is routed to wallets through hawala transactions and then these wallets are used to purchase real estate. The UAE is one of the preferred destinations for purchase of wallets and investing in real estate. D-Company (his criminal syndicate) has a strong hawala network to send money to the UAE.”
In fact, the directorate filed a case against Ibrahim and his close aides under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) earlier this week and carried out raids across Mumbai, including against two city-based builders and Nagpada residence of his late sister Haseena Parkar, wrote ET.
The agency is also questioning a close relative of Dawood’s close associate, Chhota Shakeel. The case rests on a recent first information report (FIR) registered by the National Investigation Agency.
“While crypto is a recent foray, the exact amount cannot be ascertained as the investigation is still underway and multiple transactions and money trails are being pursued,” said the official.
But what has apparently added to the officials’ worry is the use of the darknet, or computer network with restricted access that is mainly used for illegal file sharing — all of which is rendering the investigation difficult.
“D-Company, darknet and crypto is a deadly mix. The trail in such transactions is difficult to retrace and investigation hits a roadblock,” said another official. “While the darknet makes betting easier, crypto coins help in financial dealings, leaving very little documentary evidence and making a probe next to impossible.”
The officials believed that illegal betting emerged as the D-Company’s main business during pandemic.
“Though the pandemic restricted the movement of people, darknet and crypto ensured that the betting business thrived as usual. It’s a parallel economy that runs into thousands of crores and cryptocurrency is the new entrant to the ecosystem, making transactions easier,” said the second official.
An array of agencies including the Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, CBI and several state police units have raised concerns over the cryptocurrency’s misuse, especially in terrorism and narco-terrorism.