GoaChronicle.com brings you yet another startling expose on the new details coming out from the Hassan Ali investigations and its link to Goa – companies and politicians; this time the Enforcement Directorate radar has been put on the casinos in Goa as on-going investigations indicate that they are one of the conduits to money-laundering and counterfeit money racket.
The investigations into the black money trail of Hassan Ali have now brought the casinos in Goa under the Enforcement Directorate (ED) radar. It has been learnt from highly placed sources in ED that casinos are a conduit to the transactions of black money. While the business accounting records of some companies indicate relative turnover in casino business; it is the unaccounted for black money which is considered to be over five times more than what is recorded in the books of accounts of the casinos.
The ED has put its radar on 6 ministers in the current Congress-led government including the Chief Minister, 7 MLAs and some politicians who have direct or indirect connections with casino operations in Goa; nothing conclusive have been revealed to us on the investigations yet, what has been told is that it is a serious issue and it is in keeping with the black money trail investigations. All Central ministers with interest in casino business in Goa too have been put under radar.
The ‘Casino’ Business
Speaking to a senior employee of one of the casinos currently under watch of the ED, GoaChronicle.com through its own investigations learnt that their total turnover per day is expected to be between the range of Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 1.25 crore on the minimum, making it an over Rs. 400 crore turn-over business a year from just one casino operation. However when you compare the annual report of the same company for the last financial year it shows only 25 per cent of the supposed earnings as its gross annual turnover.
While on official records and as industry indicates it has been made to believe that the total casino business in Goa will be valued in the range of Rs 500 crore to a maximum of Rs 1000 crore; it appears to be that the deflated figures into the casino business are being shown in order to create a cover over the black money transactions and the true money value of the casino businesses in Goa.
More importantly, what appears to be basic casino operations at face value on the floors with tables and card games; what often misses the eye are the big games which are often played in private rooms at these casinos. Most of our informers working in casinos have told us that sometimes games from Rs 1 crore to as high Rs 10 crore in cash are played in these private games, which in most cases never become a part of the official records of the casino operations.
The ‘Counterfeit’ Money
Besides the black money trail leading to the casinos in Goa, what is coming up in the investigations is the usage of some casinos to pump counterfeit Indian rupees into the Indian market through unassuming customers who come to the casinos to play, since most transactions in the casinos are done with cash, even though credit cards can also be utilized. Casinos becomes a viable option in the counterfeit money racket because coming to casinos in Goa is become a novelty for most tourists, business people and compulsive gamblers; and if you study the visitor inflow into the casinos you will notice that over 80 per cent of the customers in the casinos are Indians from different parts of India; while customers from Maharashtra, Delhi and Gujarat will be on the high.
The Casino Watch
While all casinos in Goa have been put on a watch under the ED radar it has been learnt from our source in ED that the Jaydev Mody run Casino Royale and Ashok Ketrapal run Casino Pride are of keen interest to the investigating team since most of the investigations indicate that illegal activities seem to emerging from these casinos or other casinos run by companies owned by them.
Goa so far is the only state in India where it is legal to run on-shore and off-shore casinos. Even though some casinos have not complied with the mandatory government set guidelines to run an off-shore casino yet they continue to be stationed in the waters of Goa, with zero interference or check from the Goa government authorities.
Speaking to GoaChronicle.com, a senior officer, ED, on condition of anonymity revealed that it is because of the patronage of the political brass in Goa, especially due to some ministers in the Congress-led government both in the state and at the Centre; we have till now not been able to initiate any action into the illegal activities at the Casinos of money-laundering and counterfeit currency reports we have found through our investigations. Since our investigations are still on, we have been keeping a very close watch on the casino operations, companies running the casinos and the politicians in Goa that are working along with them.
GoaChronicle.com in its expose ‘Blackmoney Trail: Goa Politicians Under Intelligence Agencies Radar’ had mentioned that Central Intelligence Agencies have been keeping a watch on 60 individuals from Goa who belong to the political and business segment of Goa. Out of those 60 names, 6 are Cabinet rank ministers and 13 MLAs from the current Goa legislative assembly.
The trail to the casino is interesting in the light of the fact that companies running Casino Royale and Casino Pride are also making investments into hotels and real estates in Goa to further their hospitality and casino business.
With casinos in Goa also emerging as a conduit to money laundering besides mining, drugs and real estate and with investigations into the blackmoney trail; it no surprise of the involvement of Goa politicians. Not too long ago Leader of the Opposition party Manohar Parrikar had casted serious aspersion on the involvement of All India Congress Committee Political Secretary Ahmed Patel and Chief Minister Digambar Kamat in increasing the number of casinos in Goa and also demanded a vigilance inquiry into the same. However, the matter was diffused and no investigation into the matter was ever conducted even though the BJP leader then stated that he had evidence to prove that Ahmed Patel was pressurizing Digambar Kamat to allow more casinos especially that of Ashok Ketrapal – Casino Pride owner.
While intelligence agencies continue to investigate into the black money trail, GoaChronicle.com has learnt that so far of all the money-laundering business emerging in the investigations 70 per cent is from Mumbai and Goa alone.