PFI, Rehab India officials seek time on PMLA summons

PFI, Rehab India officials meet ED to seek more time on PMLA summons

The Popular Front of India was booked by the ED under the PMLA in 2018. Credit: Facebook (tarunpaleo)

Representatives of Kerala-based PFI and NGO Rehab India Foundation on Wednesday met ED officials to seek more time for its office bearers to appear before the federal probe agency in connection with a money laundering probe being conducted against them, officials said.

Four officials including legal representatives of the two organisations met Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials at their office here at around 10:30 am.

The ED is probing the two under criminal provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) as part of an enforcement case information report (ECIR) or FIR filed in 2018.

A recent finding of the federal agency, related to violent protests in Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the country against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) having an alleged "financial link" with the PFI, is also under the probe scanner of the ED along with some purported dubious deposits in the bank accounts linked to the Rehab India Foundation (RIF).

It had issued summons to seven office-bearers of the two outfits on Tuesday in connection with this case.

Those summoned include PFI and Rehab India Foundation (RIF) Chairman E Abubacker, PFI vice-chairman O M Abdul Salam, general secretary M Mohammed Ali Jinnah and national secretaries Anis Ahmed and Abdul Wahid Sait.

Similar summonses were also sent to RIF general secretary Remiz Muhammed and secretary A Chandrankandy.

"We have sought more time for our chairman Mr Abubacker. He is suffering from cancer and some intestinal problems and he is hospitalised for the last few months," PFI's Anis Ahmed told PTI.

"We will explore all legal options with regard to the ED action. Our financial transactions are clean and we have filed all our income tax returns. This is vendetta politics against us," he said.

Efforts to obtain comments from the RFI did not fructify despite making phone calls and sending an email.

On its website, RFI said it was formed in 2018 and its aim is to "rehabilitate the marginalised section of rural India with a better standard of living by channelling the building rocks of a just society i.e. education, health, economic development and environment".

Officials said while the agency may issue a fresh date for Abubacker, the rest of the office bearers are scheduled to appear before the investigating officer of the case next week.

The ED, they said, is also probing remittances and withdrawal of funds from nine bank accounts of RFI apart from a deposit of Rs 20 lakh from Dubai in its accounts.

It had found, sources said, that at least Rs 1.04 crore was deposited in several bank accounts linked to the PFI between December 4 last year and January 6 in various parts of the country.

This was the time when Parliament amended the law to grant citizenship to non-Muslims who were persecuted on religious grounds in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

The sources said a total amount of Rs 120 crore, credited at varied times into the bank accounts linked to the PFI, RFI and few others, were under the ED's scanner.

"The Popular Front of India has stated it multiple times that we fully comply with the law of the land and the allegation of Rs 120 crore transferred from the Popular Front's accounts just before the CAA protests is totally baseless and the people who are levelling these allegations should prove these claims," the organisation had said in a statement issued on Monday.

A National Investigation Agency FIR and charge sheet against the PFI formed the basis for the ED to file the PMLA case two years back.

The agency is probing the PFI's alleged role with respect to suspected terror-funding and possible creation of assets by using "tainted" funds.

The PFI was formed in November 2006 in Kerala.