Hawala money: ED attaches over ₹305 crore-worth of assets of Joy Alukkas owner in FEMA case

The ED said that evidence from documents and mails gathered during the search proved Joy Alukkas's involvement in hawala transactions.

BySouth First Desk

Published Feb 25, 2023 | 2:30 PM Updated Feb 25, 2023 | 2:30 PM

On 17 February, the retail jewellery chain had withdrawn its ₹2,300 crore initial public offering (IPO) without assigning any reason. (Wikimedia Commons)

Assets worth over ₹305 crore of the owner of prominent Kerala-based jewellery group Joyalukkas were attached by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday, 24 February, in a FEMA case linked to the alleged transfer of “huge cash” to Dubai by the company through hawala channels.

The attachment of assets comes two days after the central investigation agency had carried out searches at multiple premises of the Thrissur-headquartered group owned by Joy Alukkas Verghese.

The various assets

“The attached assets include 33 immovable properties (valued at ₹81.54 crore) consisting of land and a residential building in Shobha City, Thrissur, three bank accounts (having deposits of ₹91.22 lakh), three fixed deposits worth ₹5.58 crore, and shares of Joyalukkas India Pvt Ltd (valued at ₹217.81 crore),” the ED said in a statement.

The total value of these assets, attached under section 37A of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), is ₹305.84 crore, it said.

The origin of the case

On 17 February, the retail jewellery chain had withdrawn its ₹2,300 crore initial public offering (IPO) without assigning any reason.

Proceeds of the IPO were slated to be used for payment of debt, for financing the opening of eight new showrooms, and for general corporate purposes.

The ED case pertains to “huge amount of cash transferred to Dubai from India through hawala (illegal money transfer) channels and subsequently invested in Joyalukkas Jewellery LLC, Dubai, which is 100 percent owned company of Joy Alukkas Verghese.”

It said evidence gathered during the searches — official documents and mails — “clearly proved” active involvement of Joy Alukkas in hawala transactions.

It alleged Varghese was the “beneficial owner” of the funds invested in Joyalukkas Jewellery LLC, Dubai.

Also Read: Delhi liquor scam: Court allows ED to question Kavitha’s former CA 

Joy Alukkas — the person and the brand

Joy Alukkas Verghese. (Wikimedia Commons)

Joy Alukkas Verghese. (Wikimedia Commons)

Joy Alukkas Verghese hails from a rich family in Thrissur, which was traditionally engaged in umbrella making. His father Varghese Alukka, however, entered the gold business in 1956 and started a small jewellery showroom in Thrissur.

In 1980, Joy Alukkas took full administrative control of the Alukkas group, then confined only to Thrissur. In 1982, he began expanding, with a first branch in Kozhikode. Now, the group has branches across India.

In 1987, Alukkas entered the UAE market by opening his first outlet in Abu Dhabi. Now, it has the largest network of gold shops in India and the whole gulf region.

After severing ties with his three brothers in the same profession, he rechristened branches under him as “Joyalukkas”.

His personal net worth stands at $1.3 billion and the group has an annual turnover of $2 billion.

Also Read: Bengaluru nurse dressed up as doctor to steal patients’ jewellery 

(With PTI inputs)