Alleged Dawood funds in BoB's Nassau branch: CBDT seeks details

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Sunday sought from TV news channel IBN details of its investigation after the IBN alleged that it had, along with FirstPost.com, found that underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's cash was washing up in a Bank of Baroda branch in Nassau, the tax haven in the Bahamas.

On Saturday, finance minister P Chidambaram gave an assurance that the matter would be probed.

R Jagannathan, editor, FirstPost.com, said, "Bank of Baroda should be checked. What are they doing in Nassau? Are they serving an Indian community? They should do a full investigation of their clients. As of now, it is only a know-your-customer (KYC) policy violation that happens regularly in India."

The government-owned Bank of Baroda strongly denied the allegations that the bank's Nassau branch in the Bahamas has accepted Dawood Ibrahim's fund transfers.

The lender said its Nassau branch had been maintaining the account of Dubai Exchange for several years. "It is a KYC compliant account where transactions take place in the normal course of business to established banking channels. All AML (anti-money laundering) guidelines are followed. Hence, we deny any involvement of Bank of Baroda in alleged transfer of funds as reported in the Media," the bank's chairman and managing director, S S Mundra, said in a statement on Sunday.

The former Mumbai don, reportedly living in Karachi under the patronage of the Pakistan army, was held responsible for the 1993 Mumbai blasts by the Supreme Court. The US has called him a global terrorist.

According to IBN-FirstPost, cash from Afghanistan-Pakistan based terror groups, being handled by Dawood, has been traced to the Bahamas and is sitting in the Nassau branch of Bank of Baroda.

The report claims highly-placed government sources have told FirstPost that the Bank of Baroda's Nassau branch saw successive wire transfers of several hundred thousand dollars from at least three Dubai-based currency exchanges - the al-Zarouni Exchange, the Dubai Exchange and the al-Dirham Exchange - suspected to be proceeds from organised crime.

The Al-Dirham exchange is named in an Indian government dossier on Dawood Ibrahim's operations.

Dawood, as the investigation reveals, has emerged as the principal provider of financial services to narcotics traffickers and jihadists across South Asia - a business pegged at over $3.5 billion a year, which uses front companies to access the global financial system. New Delhi had provided Islamabad with the dossier in 2011, naming at least 11 United Arab Emirates-based entities controlled by Dawood's crime cartel.