India takes the hunt for Dawood Ibrahim to London
London: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to make a formal request to his British counterpart David Cameron to crack down on gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s operations on British soil, highly placed diplomatic sources have told mid-day.
Also read: India back on Dawood chase
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet David Cameron in London this week. File pic
Modi is on a three-day official visit to the UK starting tomorrow. The sources said Britain’s premier investigating agency, the National Crime Agency, commonly known as the UK’s FBI, will take up the probe.
They said Modi is expected to raise the issue during his meeting with Cameron on security matters, adding that the prime minister may even raise the issue in his address to the British Parliament to make a strong case for co-operation between agencies of the two countries.
Significantly, Indian officials are believed to have discussed the issue with Interpol last month. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has prepared a list of at least 17 properties Dawood owns in the UK. A copy of this list has also been shared with the Scotland Yard a few weeks ago.
Closer home, a very senior Maharashtra government functionary told a few journalists on Monday that “the process of getting Dawood back has started.” Indian agencies last week brought Dawood’s rival Chhota Rajan from Indonesia.
Read Story: Dawood's security enhanced by Pak Army: Reports
“Rajan was not brought back overnight,” the senior functionary told reporters during an informal briefing. “The process was set in motion a long time ago. Similarly, the process of getting at Dawood was also started some time ago. And you will start seeing the results soon.”
The ED dossier will be the key entry point for British agencies to begin investigating properties allegedly owned by Dawood, sources said.
mid-day has details of UK-based firms and over a dozen properties — houses, flats and hotels — spread across London and its outskirts that are allegedly owned by Dawood through his known associates. The list was recently provided to Scotland Yard.
The prime properties amounting to over £100 million (Rs 1,000 crore) were allegedly brought by ill-gotten wealth through various money laundering schemes that involved setting up bogus companies to front the transactions.
The ED dossier contains deeds and agreements, including financial transactions that could be instrumental in providing evidence to initiate money-laundering charges against Dawood’s associates in the UK.
ED believes Iqbal Mirchi, an accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, was the key aide who helped Dawood expand his empire in the UK. However, the UK police had no evidence to initiate an enquiry against him on those charges till his death in August 2013.
Keen to probe
The NCA was established in 2013 to investigate serious and organised crime and draws the best agents from MI5, the British domestic counter-intelligence and security agency.
A threat assessment report by the NCA in July said “the scale of money laundering of criminal proceeds is a strategic threat to the UK’s economy and reputation... the proceeds of a significant amount of international serious and organised crime is believed to be laundered into and through the UK.”
While none of the firms mentioned by the ED have any charges against them in the UK, law enforcement agencies are keen to probe any lead their Indian counterparts supply on illegal activities on British soil.
Scotland Yard’s Proactive Money Laundering Investigations Team is another agency that uses such intelligence to proactively seize financial assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002. This is the most effective way to disrupt organised criminal networks.
“If the Indian authorities were to provide information, this would need to come through the correct channels of Interpol (for the UK to assist in the investigations),” an NCA spokesperson told mid-day.
Money laundering is a huge concern for the British government. From Arab billionaires and Russian oligarchs to criminals and the mafia, millions of illegal funds are parked in the property market in London.
“If the Indian government has any information or evidence on any wrong doings and can supply that to the UK government, it will help crack down on the money laundering menace and curtail global crime,” said Virender Sharma, Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group.
Sharma had in July signed an early day motion in the House of Commons on this issue, demanding greater transparency in property transactions, especially those done through overseas firms. Over 40 other MPs, including recently elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, have also signed this motion.
Dawood’s Man Friday
Mohamad Iqbal Memon aka Iqbal Mirchi (chilli) was a key man for Dawood in the UK. An accused in the 1993 serial blasts, he ranked among the top 50 drug barons of the world by a 2003 UN report. In August 2013, he died of a heart attack at his UK residence aged 63.