The Popular Front of India (PFI), banned recently by the government for alleged terrorist links and spreading communal hatred, has a “well-structured and organised” presence in the Gulf countries for raising and mobilising funds, the ED said Monday after a local court took cognisance of its latest charge sheet filed against three PFI office bearers.
The federal probe agency had filed the prosecution complaint or charge sheet last week before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Patiala House.
The dossier was filed (on November 19) to press money laundering charges and begin trial against Perwez Ahmad, Mohammad Ilias and Abdul Muqueet who were arrested by it on September 22 following nation-wide raids against the PFI the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and various state police units.
More than 100 persons liked to PFI were arrested by these agencies and many more were detained. At present, the three are under judicial custody in Tihar Jail.
A week after this action, the Centre banned the PFI for five years under the stringent anti-terror law, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), accusing the Islamic outfit of having “links” with global terror groups such as the ISIS and trying to spread communal hatred in the country.
Its associated entities–Rehab India Foundation, Campus Front of India, All India Imams Council, National Confederation of Human Rights Organisation, National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation and Rehab Foundation, Kerala — were also placed on the list of outlawed organisations.
The ED, in a statement, said Ahmad was the president of PFI Delhi unit and he “supervised the fund raising activities of PFI and managed its public relations.” “Md. Ilias, the general secretary of Delhi PFI, was active in mobilisation of funds for PFI and related organisations in the Delhi-NCR region. He also contested Delhi assembly elections of 2020 from Karawal Nagar as an Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) candidate.” “Both Perwez Ahmad and Md. Ilias were arrested by Delhi Police in the case related to North East Delhi riots of February, 2020,” the ED said.
Abdul Muqeet, it said, was the office secretary of Delhi PFI and was also “actively” involved in the fund raising activities of PFI and in the preparation of “bogus” cash donation slips, the ED said.
“PFI generated proceeds of crime, both in India and abroad, by way of criminal conspiracy (an offence under section 120B of IPC), in active collusion with its associated individuals and entities as a part of a larger conspiracy to raise funds for its unlawful and anti-national activities, prejudicial to the unity, integrity and security of the state.
“Proceeds of crime mobilised and remitted in the form of cash have been deposited in PFI’s bank accounts by falsely projecting them as cash donations from its sympathisers/members,” the agency said.
Such cash has also been deposited by PFI leaders in the bank accounts of individuals and immediately thereafter equivalent amounts of funds have been transferred from their bank accounts to PFI’s bank accounts so as to project them as legitimate, it alleged.
“PFI has a well-structured and organised presence in the Gulf countries for raising and mobilizing funds as part of criminal conspiracy,” the ED further said.
“These foreign funds are not directly deposited in the accounts of PFI, rather they are clandestinely routed to India through underground and illegal channels or sent to India in the guise of foreign remittances into the bank accounts of sympathisers/office bearers/members and their relatives/associates held in India and thereafter transferred to PFI’s bank accounts,” the ED said.
This kind of “layering and circuitous routing” is done to conceal the foreign origin and trail of the proceeds of crime, it said.
The ED said the three arrested persons named above were an “integral” part of this conspiracy along with other office-bearers and members of the PFI and played key roles in the façade of bogus cash donations by way of which proceeds of crime were concealed, possessed and projected as untainted money.
The probe agency has earlier provisionally attached Rs 86.36 lakh kept in 24 bank accounts of PFI and Rs 8.22 lakh funds kept in 7 bank accounts of Rehab India Foundation.
“Further investigation against PFI and its office-bearers is underway,” it said.