Tue, 29 Nov 2022

By Sushil BatraNew Delhi [India], September 30 (ANI): After seven days of custodial interrogation of the office bearer of the Popular Front of India (PFI), the Enforcement Directorate on Friday informed the court that the "investigation qua the accused persons has revealed that they have played an active role in bogus cash donations on behalf of PFI and in claiming and projecting PFI's unaccounted cash raised through unknown and suspicious sources as untainted and legitimate."ED also stated that the PMLA investigation has revealed that as a part of a criminal conspiracy hatched by PFI office bearers over the past many years, suspicious funds from within the country and abroad have been raised by PFI and related entities and have been clandestinely remitted to India in a concealed manner and deposited in their bank accounts over the years.

These funds have been raised as a part of the scheduled offence of criminal conspiracy. The funds so raised/collected by PFI are thus nothing but proceeds of crime which they have layered, placed and integrated through their numerous bank accounts as well as those of their members/sympathizers. Thus PFI and its related entities have been involved in the continuous offence of money laundering over the years, the ED said.

The Enforcement Directorate through Advocate Naveen Kumar Matta, while seeking judicial custody of the accused stated that the investigation in the case is still continuing and requires the gathering of additional evidence and examination and confrontation of voluminous data extracted from digital devices which is still under progress.

Hence, the judicial custody of the accused i.e. Perwez Ahmed, Md. Iliyas and Abdul Muqeet during the period of investigation are warranted to ensure that they do not influence the witnesses and do not tamper with or destroy the material evidence related to the case.

After taking note of the submissions of ED, the Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Shailender Malik on Friday decided to send all three accused to Judicial Custody for 14 days after ED didn't seek further custodial remand of them. All three accused were produced before the court on Friday after the end of the seven-day remand, which was granted last week by the same court.

Enforcement Directorate (ED) earlier had alleged that Perwez Ahmad was part of a criminal conspiracy since 2018.

"He admitted to having looked after the collection of funds in Delhi. Investigation revealed that such fund collection exercise was a sham and was falsely projected to be received from PFI sympathizers whereas statements of individuals, projected as contributors, revealed that these transactions were bogus. Hence, cash from suspicious sources was nothing but proceeds of crime generated out of criminal conspiracy," ED stated.

"The non-cooperative and evasive attitude of Perwez Ahmad along with his deliberate attempts to avoid joining the ongoing investigation in light of the fresh evidence viz. the statement of so-called donors and the evidence seized from various locations during searches, in this case, create further suspicion about his activities and involvement in money laundering activities," ED further stated.

"It is evident that Perwez Ahmad deliberately withheld disclosure of true facts and deliberately lied and tried to mislead the investigating officer during the recording of his statements under Section 50 of PMLA, 2002," said the ED in court.

ED earlier stated that the PMLA investigation against PFI in a matter registered in 2018 revealed that more than Rs 120 crores has been deposited in the accounts of PFI and related entities over the years and that a very large part of the same has been deposited in cash.

According to the ED, it has recently found inputs against the PFI for "organizing a training camp with an intent to cause disturbance during Prime Minster Narendra Modi's visit in Bihar's capital Patna on July 12 this year".

Besides, during the course of the investigation, the agencies have found details of numerous bank accounts of PFI.

The revelation came in two separate remand copies of the Enforcement Directorate, one submitted before a special judge in Lucknow against Muhammed Shafeeque Payeth, a resident of Kozhikode in Kerala, and the other against Perwez Ahmed before a Special Court in Delhi.

Both Payeth and Ahmed were arrested from Kerala and Delhi respectively on September 22 during the largest search operation conducted by a joint team of ED and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and state police forces, arresting 106 PFI members from 15 states. (ANI)

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