'Hawala King' is arrested after global hunt

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The Independent Online

A man suspected of being one of the world's most prolific underground bankers has been arrested in India after a global manhunt involving British police.

Naresh Jain was being tracked by detectives in London, the United States, Holland, Italy, Spain and the UAE when he was seized in New Delhi.

He is accused of acting as a money launderer for organised crime gangs from British drug traffickers to al Qaida suspects.

Jain fled his business headquarters in Dubai last year after being released on bail ahead of a trial for breaking the country's foreign exchange laws.

Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) deputy director Ian Cruxton said he was held by officers of the Narcotics Control Bureau in India yesterday after a year-long manhunt.

He said: "This operation is part of Soca's long term strategy targeting specialist money launderers based overseas."

Jain, also known as Naresh Patel, was arrested in April 2007 by Dubai police after a year-long international investigation.

Officials believe he controlled a worldwide money laundering system that at its height was capable of moving $2.2bn (£1.3bn) a year.

This business consisted of individuals and companies that facilitated the collection and distribution of cash in key cities across five continents.

From his Dubai office Jain was allegedly able to provide his criminal clients with funds in a jurisdiction of their choice.

Much of the money was moved by hawala, an informal honour-based money transfer system primarily based in the Middle East, East Africa and southern Asia.

The British authorities have secured an exclusion order preventing Jain from entering the UK.

Mr Cruxton added: "The illegal informal value transfer systems they use provide the infrastructure to launder cash for organised crime groups whose activities directly impact on the United Kingdom.

"These networks pay no attention to cultural or geographical barriers and launder money for organised crime groups from any ethnic background or criminal businesses, particularly UK, Pakistani and Turkish nationals based in UK and mainland Europe involved in drugs trafficking."

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