India arrests “Hawala” kingpin

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India has arrested an alleged kingpin of the international “Hawala” informal money transfer system after a joint operation by detectives in five countries.

Naresh Jain, known as the “Hawala king,” was stopped by police in Delhi and stands accused of heading a vast network of secret informal banking systems used by militants and gangsters for money laundering.

The term “Hawala” is used to describe an illegal network used to transfer money outside of the formal banking system. It is popular for regular consumers wanting to transfer small amounts, but is also a haven for criminals.

Jain is believed to own 35 companies used as fronts to run his transaction business in India. He also owns a copper mine in Congo along with his brothers, investigators said.

His operations first came to light in 2006 through “Operation Khyber Pass”, a sting operation by America’s Drug Enforcement Administration. “We are probing all his companies. More arrests can be expected soon,” an official said.