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ED raids Delhi-NCR travel firms, CAs for suspected e-visa fraud; seizes over Rs 3.50-cr cash

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New Delhi : The Enforcement Directorate has seized Rs 3.57-crore cash after raiding tours and travel firms and their CAs in Delhi-NCR to probe alleged irregularities in processing of e-visa applications for foreigners wishing to travel to India.

The central probe agency said on Saturday it raided eight locations in Delhi and Ghaziabad on July 9 under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

The raids were carried out at the residences and offices of directors of several tour and travel companies and their chartered accountants and Rs 3.57-crore cash along with incriminating documents and digital records were seized, the agency said in a statement.

The ED had received “specific inputs” that these entities were involved in unauthorised receipt of foreign remittance through payment gateways in the name of providing e-visa services to foreigners, it said.

The agency said the preliminary probe found “two such entities received foreign remittance of more than Rs 200 crore for processing Indian e-visa applications of foreigners without any authorisation from the government.”

“These entities were also involved in high value suspicious transactions,” it said.

It was also found that “certain chartered accountants played a key role in managing the affairs of these entities and were behind the suspicious transactions carried out by them.”

“The seizure of unaccounted cash during the raids has raised further suspicion about the operations of such entities and blatant violation of statutory requirements,” the ED said.

A probe is underway and the directors and executives of these firms will be questioned, a senior agency official said.

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