Bluff Master Ali: The story at a glance

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Ashish Khetan scoops over 1,000 documents, including classified correspondence between Swiss bank UBS and the ED.  These show the black money don may just be the biggest con.  Ever.

Bluff Master Ali: Read the full story

Photo: Deepak Salvi

 

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The Income tax raids at the residence of Hasan Ali Khan and his associates led to the seizure of dozens of bank statements, transfer instructions and bank correspondence.

As many as seven offshore accounts of Khan were identified from these documents. Five of them were with UBS and formed the core of the tax evasion and money laundering case.

It was in these five accounts that Khan had supposedly stashed away Rs 36,000 crore.

It was primarily from one of these accounts that Khan had allegedly transferred billions of dollars to beneficiaries across six countries. This account (206-794-786) belonged to his wife Rheema Abbas.

An internal investigation report prepared by UBS and an audit into Khan’s accounts done by Deloitte revealed that out of these five accounts, only three existed with the bank. One was in Rheema’s name and the other two in Khan’s.

These three accounts were opened on the same day, 30 July 2001, and closed on the same date, 30 October 2001. The other two accounts never existed.

In two of the accounts, which did exist, no transaction ever took place.

In the third account, only one transaction happened, worth $61,000 (approximately Rs 25 lakh). Seized documents had suggested that it was from this account that Khan had transferred billions of dollars.

UBS claims all the bank statements and correspondence claiming $8 billion as deposits in Khan’s accounts and instructions issued by him for the transfer of billions of dollars to beneficiaries across the world were forged.

The enforcement directorate had sent letters rogatory to six different countries to which Khan had transferred his billions. UBS claims there was never any money in these accounts to transfer in the first place.

UBS also claims that in 1997, Khan had sent them a fax requesting a transfer of $52 million from his account to another customer. But the account that he claimed as his turned out to be somebody else’s and thus the transaction never took place.

UBS claims that Khan had targeted the bank for the purpose of conning unsuspecting people and to avoid creditors.

UBS claims that Khan was known to a few of its officials since 1987. He would often make calls to some of them and talk about the millions of dollars he had stashed in the bank.

UBS says these calls were nothing but “hot air business”, talk that Khan indulged in to impress somebody present with him. A ruse to dupe people.

Khan was involved in six cases of bank fraud, cheating and forgery in Hyderabad. He holds multiple passports with fictitious addresses.

Khan’s associate Kashinath Tapuriah was convicted in a case of siphoning funds from a company in which he was a director.

So far, only two bank transactions involving Khan have turned out to be for real. One is for $61,000. The other is for $7 lakh (approximately Rs 3 crore).

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Ashish Khetan is Editor,Investigations with Tehelka
ashish.khetan@tehelka.com

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