New Delhi, Sep 29 : The Popular Front Of India (PFI), which was banned by the government for five years on Wednesday, had been collecting funds using different channels, both from India and abroad.
The investigating agencies have now learnt that PFI members abroad used to collect money using different means, including in the name of assistance to Haj pilgrims, membership of its dummy firms, real estate deals, by owning pubs and bars and selling used cars to terrorist organisations.
This money would later be sent to NRI accounts from where it would be re-transferred to PFI members in India. Over 100 bank accounts of PFI not matching the financial profile of the account holders have come to the notice of the agencies.
Here’s how the PFI clandestinely collected funds from overseas:
Haj pilgrimage: The PFI members active in the Gulf countries assisted Indians going on Haj pilgrimage in exchange of money. This money would be later sent to India. The PFI took all possible routes — be it hawala or dealing in gold — to send the money to India.
NRI accounts: “PFI members overseas sent money to NRI accounts form the UAE and other Gulf countries. After receiving the fund in the NRI accounts, the account holders transferred it to different accounts belonging to PFI leaders. This modus operandi for money transfer was a direct violation of Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA),” said a source.
Real estate: Saifu, a PFI member and a resident of Chavakadu district in Kerala, lives in Abu Dhabi where he deals in real estate. It has been found that he sent money to the accounts of PFI leaders in India. Money earned through rent-a-car service was also re-transferred to India.
Bars in Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi has nightclubs and bars where alcohol is legally available. Some of these outlets were run by PFI members, who earned huge amounts from this business which they re-routed to their PFI counterparts in India.
KISF membership: The PFI was active in Kuwait under the name of ‘Kuwait India Social Forum’ (KISF). Sources in the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said that KISF used to collect yearly membership fees from its members to support the activities of PFI in India.
Rehab Foundation and Oman-based members: PFI has many dummy organisations which are active in the Gulf countries. The National Development Front (NDF) is one such outfit which is active in Oman. The agencies have learnt that NDF sent around Rs 44 lakh through hawala channels to PFI members in India. One PFI member identified as Ashfakh Chaikinakath Puayil kept all the account details. The money was sent to the Rehab India Foundation in Kerala, which is another dummy organisation of PFI.
Selling used cars to ISIS: The agencies have claimed that in Syria, a PFI member identified as Muhammad Fahimi earned large amount of money by selling used cars to ISIS and other terrorist groups. This money was later sent to India through hawala channel.
The Qatar connection: PFI has a number of Malayali members who live in Qatar. They run a Cultural Forum (CF), which is also a dummy organisation of PFI. The money collected by these members in Qatar in the name of aid for Muslims was sent to PFI and SDPI leaders in India.
The PFI members living abroad also transferred money to India using e-wallets, showing them as legal assistance and community charity.
“PFI had been receiving funds from dubious channels from within the country and abroad. The PFI and its affiliates maintained large number of bank accounts and received money through its well-wishers and financers based in India and abroad.
“Over 100 bank accounts of PFI not matching with the financial profile of the account holders have come to the notice of the agencies. As a result, the registration status of PFI under Section 12A & 12AA of IT Act was withdrawn,” the source said.