As ED examines 3,000 PFI bank accounts, shines spotlight on fake donations and shady recipients

Fake cash donations, bogus slips, shady bank accounts, blank addresses, missing PAN card details and contributors such as vendors and rickshaw pullers who had no financial profile turned out to be the donors or beneficiaries of the nearly 3,000 bank accounts of Popular Front of India (PFI) which has been the subject of the country’s largest counter-terrorism investigation in recent times.

What is remarkable is that the PFI has officially maintained that it does not receive foreign funds as an “established policy”, but the incriminating documents seized during the search operations and the statements of some of the arrested defendants tell another story.

The Law Enforcement (ED) Directorate secured seven-day custody of three PFI leaders accused of money laundering, while the NIA secured four-day custody of 18 arrested defendants under the strict anti-terrorism law, the law on the prevention of illegal activities. The ED won custody of Pervez Ahmed, chairman of PFI Delhi; Mohammed Iliyas, General Secretary of PFI Delhi and Abdul Muqeet, PFI Office Secretary. Both agencies told the court that the defendants raised and collected funds in India and abroad through banking channels, hawala donations, etc., which were in turn diverted to terrorist acts in various parts of the country. country.

As investigators sifted through PFI’s 3,000 bank accounts at 38 locations across the country over the past four years, they discovered the fundraiser was a sham as it was falsely projected as contributions from PFI supporters, while statements from individuals, projected as contributors, revealed that they were unaware of remittances and cash withdrawals to their accounts, as these accounts were managed by IFP members. These contributors were the poorest of the poor who had no idea of ​​the financial flows because their accounts had been opened at the request of PFI and were being used without their knowledge, an investigator said. The second modus operandi consisted of fake donation slips in the name of individuals who either did not exist or did not have the financial means to donate and did not pay income tax returns. Huge amounts of donations were seen in such names, the investigator added.

Currently, investigative agencies are analyzing the financial profiles and accounts of PFI donors and recipients in more detail. As the skeletons fall, the PFI is set to take a beating as more questions are raised about supporters against whose names donations are shown to have been collected in door-to-door campaigns. While investigators claim that a large number of people sympathetic to the organization in its strongholds of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh were duped, the outcome will decide the fate of the organization experiencing the greatest crisis.

Pervez Ahmed, chairman of Delhi PFI since 2018, reportedly told investigators that no donation receipts are issued to donors when funds are raised by visiting individuals’ homes and all money is given to district chairmen. who bring it to PFI headquarters. The accounting department completes the donation slips, signs them and gives them to the donors. A copy of the bordereau remains in the account books. During his interrogation, it is learned that Pervez admitted that the details are incomplete and tried to blame it on lower officials. He appointed Mohammed Ilyas as the fundraising officer in the trans Yamuna area of ​​Delhi NCR as he used to deposit money with the accountant and manager of PFI’s Shaheen Bagh office. The whole trail of fake donations and wire transfers was eventually corroborated by the statement of Abdul Muqeet and several individuals registered under section 50 of the PMLA, where the donors denied any association with PFI and stated that they had neither made the donation nor had the financial means. ability to do so.

Shady domestic funding then drove investigators overseas to figure out the huge inflows. It is common knowledge that the PFI is not registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), by the Union Home Department, which means that it does not have any no case the right to receive foreign funding under the law. But the story was no different here. Investigators said the executive committees of the Gulf districts – UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia – were responsible for the funding that was allegedly camouflaged as payments to family members, relatives, business partners, etc. On paper, there was no foreign funding for the PFI, but the circuitous route is a matter of concern and further investigation.

The most worrying part for the Union Home Office and investigative agencies is that the conspiracy doesn’t end there. With slush funds, the arrested defendants were involved in terrorist acts using weapons with the intention of instilling terror in the public. Some RSS and BJP leaders were targeted, an investigator said, adding that more evidence was being collected to analyze the information provided. After the latest crackdown and arrests, the NIA and ED said the aim of the investigation was to connect the dots on how this money was used to promote enmity, communal tension and radicalize the minority youth to join outlawed terrorist groups like ISIS and also revive SIMI. .