After over 13 hours of counting that began on Saturday morning using eight currency-counting machines operated by SBI officials in connection with a mobile gaming app fraud case, the final seizure of cash by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) stood at Rs 17.32 crore.
According to ED sources, the cash was seized from the Garden Reach residence of city-based businessman Amir Khan, who allegedly launched a mobile gaming application named E-Nuggets, which was designed for the purpose of defrauding the public.
The ED officials reached the spot at 8.30 am on Saturday. The counting started at around 10 am and went on till 11.10 pm after which the ED sleuths and bank officials, escorted by central armed forces personnel, left the residence of the Khan family. The seized cash was mainly in the denomination of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 currency notes. The entire recovery and counting process was video recorded.
"Some amounts were in lower denominations. We had to segregate the notes in bundles as per denomination and hence it took so long to complete the counting process," an ED official said.
Meanwhile, ED sources said that Amir Khan, who is the mastermind behind developing and launching the mobile gaming application that duped people of several crores of rupees, is absconding and his three mobile phones are switched off since Saturday morning.
Besides the huge amount of cash, the ED sleuths also recovered certain documents and a diary from the room where the cash was stashed.
The ED sleuths will now closely examine the contents of the documents and the diary to track the money trail.
"While Amir Khan is absconding, his father Nasir Khan was unable to give any satisfactory answer about the source of the large amount of cash. We are also trying to find out who were the other masterminds besides Amir Khan behind this racket. We suspect the involvement of some influential people in this entire episode," an ED official said.
The ED started conducting raids on Saturday morning under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) at six premises in Kolkata.
According to sources, the case was registered at the Park Street police station based on a complaint filed by Federal Bank authorities against Aamir Khan and others.
"Amir Khan had launched a mobile gaming application named E-Nuggets, which was designed for the purpose of defrauding the public. During the initial period, the users were rewarded with commission and the balance in the wallet could be withdrawn in a hassle-free manner. This provided initial confidence to the users, who started investing bigger amounts for greater percentage of commission and a greater number of purchase orders," said an ED official.
The official said that after collecting handsome amounts from the public, all of a sudden withdrawal from the said app was stopped at one pretext or the other.
Thereafter, all data, including profile information, was wiped out from the said app server.