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September 24, 2020

Hawala operator held in bribery bid case against Dhinakaran

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The Delhi police, which is investigating an alleged attempt by AIADMK (Amma) leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran to bribe unnamed Election Commission officials to retrieve the party’s ‘Two Leaves’ symbol, has arrested a hawala operator in the national capital for allegedly handing over ₹1 crore to co-accused Sukesh Chandrashekhar, a high-profile conman. The Chandini Chowk-based hawala operator, Nathu Singh alias Naresh, was arrested on Thursday night, taking the number of arrests in the case to four.

On Friday, a team of the Delhi police, which is in Chennai, continued questioning Mr. Dhinakaran and his associate Mallikarjuna – both of whom are under its custody – and conducted searches at the premises of suspected hawala operators.

The team has found evidence of at least ₹10 crore being routed through hawala operators to Sukesh.

Asked about speculation that the team could seek permission to question Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami in connection with the case, considering that he had held several discussions with Mr. Dhinakaran regarding the election symbol case, a police officer said there was no such move.

However, he did not rule out the possibility of questioning some State Ministers.

“The preliminary investigation revealed that ₹10 crore was routed through various “internal hawala operators” to Sukesh. We have unearthed oral, documentary and electronic evidence in connection with the case,” the officer said.

On Friday, while a team of officers grilled Mr. Dhinakaran and Mr. Mallikarjuna at the Rajaji Bhavan, another team conducted searches at several places in the city including that of Mohanarangan, a relative of Mr. Dhinakaran’s wife. The premises of one Narendra Kumar of Naryanamudali Street, Mannady, was also searched.

Besides, the police went to the house of a suspected hawala operator, Gopi, whose name cropped up during the interrogation. Sources said during the hawala transaction, one of the accused had used Gopi’s mobile phone to speak to certain suspected co-conspirators including another hawala operator Shah Faisal.

In Delhi, a senior officer said, Naresh not only handled the hawala money but also facilitated the stay and movement of the accused in the national capital. Naresh was produced at the Tis Hazari court where the presiding officer remanded him in police custody till Sunday.

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