New Delhi, May 13 (PTI) A hotel based in the UAE “served” as a money laundering front for the Popular Front of India (PFI), the ED has claimed in a fresh charge sheet filed against two arrested members of the Islamic organisation.
The federal probe agency filed a supplementary prosecution complaint against PFI leaders Abdul Razaq Peediyakkal alias Abdul Razak BP and Asharaf Khadir alias Ashraf M K in a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Lucknow recently.
They were arrested by the agency in March and April respectively.
The court has taken cognisance of the charge sheet in which the agency has identified “proceeds of crime” to the tune of Rs 22 crore, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said in a statement.
On the role of Ashraf M K, a member of PFI Kerala state executive council, the ED alleged he was involved in the funding of the organisation and related entities.
“He (Ashraf) was the owner of Darbar restaurant in Abu Dhabi which served as a money laundering front of PFI. However, to conceal the laundering of proceeds of crime through the restaurant, he did not disclose the fact of ownership of Darbar restaurant to government authorities,” the agency alleged.
It said Abdul Razak BP was “involved” with him in carrying out money laundering activities of PFI and linked entities through this restaurant.
“He (Ashraf) received proceeds of crime of around Rs 48 lakh from his brother who was managing Darbar restaurant. Another company owned by him, Tamar India Spices Pvt. Ltd. (TISPL), was also used to launder proceeds of crime,” the ED said.
Ashraf, also a former president of PFI Ernakulam district in Kerala, was arraigned by the NIA as an accused in the 2010 hand chopping case of professor Joseph, it said.
He “actively” participated in the activities of PFI’s related entities such as Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and its student wing CFI (Campus Front of India), the ED said.
The agency said its probe against Abdul Razak BP, a long-time member of PFI and its related entities, found that he was a “key figure” representing such organisations in the Gulf countries and was actively involved and instrumental in fund raising activities of PFI in India and abroad.
It said Razak, a PFI divisional president of Perumpadappu and Malappuram in Kerala, transferred about Rs 34 lakh from the UAE to Rehab India Foundation (RIF) — a front organisation of PFI.
“Similarly, he transferred Rs 2 lakh to M K Faizy, president of SDPI. Investigation found he was involved in raising/collecting funds abroad and he transferred around Rs 19 crore to India through underground/illegal channels,” the ED said.
Money laundering probe against the two found that they, along with members associated with overseas entities, were developing a residential project called Munnar Villa Vista Project (MVVP) in Kerala with a “motive” to launder money collected from foreign countries as well as within the country and to generate funds for PFI to finance its “radical” activities.
“Investigation established that proceeds of crime in the form of unaccounted and unexplained cash as well as foreign funds were parked in MVVP and were projected as untainted,” it said.
The ED alleged that Abdul Razak BP and Ashraf M K, with the active association and involvement of other PFI members, hatched a “criminal conspiracy” to raise funds in India and abroad and fraudulently transferred the funds through underground and illegal channels.
“While part of the said funds was parked in the MVV project as well as in TISPL, a large part was used by PFI and its related entities to carry out their continuous radical and unlawful activities,” it said.
The proceeds of crime in this case were “routed” through various bank accounts and were transferred to the accounts of RIF, Ashraf MK, Abdul Razak BP and were invested in MVVPL, TISPL, withdrawn in cash, etc. with a clear intension to “mask” their origin, and to avoid direct linkages to PFI while putting them to use in its numerous unlawful activities carried out over the past many years, it said.
The alleged illegal activities included a recent case linked to the transfer of Rs 3.5 lakh (during August 2018-January 2021) to PFI member Anshad Badharudeen who was arrested by the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) of Uttar Pradesh Police along with PFI member Firoz Khan in 2021. Improvised explosive devices, one .32 bore pistol and 7 live cartridges were also seized from them.
The agency had filed its first charge sheet in this case on February 6 last year before the same Lucknow court.
More such charge sheets are expected to be filed by the agency in the coming days, it said.
The ED has been probing the PFI, formed in 2006 in Kerala and headquartered in Delhi, since 2018 for its various activities, including its alleged role in “funding” the anti-CAA protests and the communal riots that took place in 2020 in Delhi. PTI NES SMN SMN
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