Financial squeeze on PFI as ED finds trail of fake donors and donations slips

Rajesh Ahuja
New Update
Police outside PFI office during raids by NIA and ED on Thursday

New Delhi: With financial squeezing of the Popular Front of India (PFI) being the prime focus of investigators now, a multi-agency probe has revealed several instances where fake cash donations were shown as legitmate funds received by the radical outfit, say investigators. 

More than 100 top functionaries of the PFI are under arrest following a crackdown launched on September 22 by the central agencies in coordination with the police in 15 states. 

According to documents collected by the investigators, PFI used to collect funds once a year during Ramzan and on other occasions if there was a conference or natural calamity. The PFI used to issue receipts for contributors who donated money to it. 

But investigators found that complete details of contributors were not mentioned on many occasions which included absence of name and address of the person who donated money and it made job of investigators difficult who wanted to verify the genuineness of the contribution. 

But strangely, investigators found that complete details of contributors were shared who were residents of the same locality. Investigators recorded statements of multiple individuals to verify the donors but these alleged contributors denied making any donation to the PFI or its political front SDPI. They denied any association with these outfits.

Some were found financially capable to make donations, added investigators. 

In another peculiar instance, investigators found that immediately before several bank transfers accounts connected to the PFI, exact amount was deposited in the bank accounts of alleged sympathisers to show that money transferred in the PFI accounts was being routed through legitimate transfers. 

These alleged sympathisers were questioned by investigators and it was found that many of them had no knowledge about the source of funds deposited in their account and many others had no control over their disbursal. And again, the financial capacity of these alleged sympathisers didn’t justify the contribution they had made. 

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) sleuths found that these bank accounts were used by local PFI leaders and cash was deposited in these accounts and immediately after that, the money was deposited in the accounts of PFI held in the same bank. 

In 2018, the then treasurer of PFI, P Koya told the ED sleuths that their outfit doesn’t take foreign contributions. But earlier searches at the offices of PFI revealed that it has thousands of members in the Gulf countries and it has been raising money from them in a “well organised and structured manner”. But interestingly the funds collected abroad never reflected in the bank accounts of the PFI as it used hawala network to send money to India.

The ED has informed courts that it suspects the PFI has brought to India over Rs 120 crore from abroad using hawala channels.