PFI’s Abdul Razak Peediyakkal, under arrest in money laundering case, gets bail from Supreme Court

PFI's Abdul Razak Peediyakkal, under arrest in money laundering case, gets bail from Supreme Court

On 25th August, the Supreme Court granted bail to Popular Front of India (PFI) leader Abdul Razak Peediyakkal. He was in custody since 10th March 2022 in a money laundering case. Reportedly, Abdul collected over Rs 20 crores for the banned Islamist organization PFI.

While granting bail to Abdul, a division bench of Justice AS Bopanna and Justice MM Sudresh considered the argument that the material witnesses had been examined and all other co-accused in the matter had already been granted bail.

The bench directed the trial court to grant bail with certain conditions. Abdul has to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigation officer once a week. In its order, the apex court said, “Among the conditions to be imposed, the trial court shall also direct the appellant to appear before the Enforcement Directorate at Lucknow, once in a week and also that the appellant shall not leave the State of Uttar Pradesh until the trial is complete or further orders are made. The appellant shall also surrender his passport if already not surrendered.”

Appearing for the ED, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju opposed the bail, saying that Abdul has been involved in terrorist activities and collected funds for such activities. He added while the co-accused in the matter have been granted bail, Abdul’s role was much graver. The apex court replied in case Abdul violates the bail conditions, ED might seek cancellation of the bail.

In December 2021, ED conducted raids on Abdul’s residence and the Munnar Villa Vista Project (MVVP) site. The investigation agency found several discrepancies in the receipt of foreign funds and cash expenses incurred and recorded in the books of accounts. Later, ED arrested Abdul and filed a charge sheet against him under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act before a Special PMLA Court in Lucknow.

ED said in the charge sheet that Abdul and the co-accused hatched a conspiracy to collect funds in India and from abroad to fund PFI’s unlawful activities. Notably, Abdul is the largest shareholder in MVVP. ED said that the main aim to establish the company was to launder money collected from abroad and in India. ED further accused Abdul of using his position in some other companies for the same purposes.

Earlier, the Allahabad High Court refused to grant him bail because he could not claim parity with co-accused Siddique Kappan as Kappan was facing allegations of Rs 5,000 transferred into the co-accused Atikur Rahman bank account. The Court pointed out that in the case of Abdul, the proceeds of the crime were in crores.

In July this year, ASG Raju opposed the bail application of Abdul, saying he posed a threat to national security. The apex court, however, disagreed with the ASG and remarked the nation was not that weak. The Court added there was no reason to believe that the People’s Court destroyed it in any case. Furthermore, the bench noted Abdul was not at flight risk while inquiring ASG about the bail conditions that would not allow him to leave the country.

When asked why Abdul was kept behind bars after he had already spent a year in jail, ASG said there were protected witnesses, and if Abdul got out, those witnesses might turn hostile. ASG added Abdul was capable of threatening the witnesses. Furthermore, ASG mentioned a case where people escaped India via Nepal even after their passports were confiscated. He said monitoring such people has become very difficult as they have many secret places.

The Court has directed ASG to provide information about the protected witnesses in the matter and inform the apex court about the progress of the trial.

The case against Abdul Razak

In May 2022, ED filed a prosecution case against two PFI leaders, Abdul Razak Peddiyakkal and Asharaf Khadir, for laundering over 22 cr. According to the charge sheet, the Popular Front of India leaders established a business in Munnar, Kerala, to launder money acquired abroad and support the organisation’s “radical activities.” It is also claimed that these leaders formed a purported “terror group” by the PFI.

Abdul, the divisional president of PFI’s Perumpadappu unit in Malappuram, was nabbed at Kozhikode airport while attempting to leave the country. Ashraf MK was arrested in Delhi last month.

The ED claims Razak transferred almost Rs 34 lakh from the UAE to Rehab India Foundation (RIF), a cover organization for PFI. He also reportedly transferred Rs 2 lakh to MK Faizy, the PFI’s political front leader, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI).

The ED has been examining PFI leaders’ purchase of various overseas properties, including a bar-cum-restaurant in Abu Dhabi, following the discovery of some papers in raids on its members in Kerala on 8th December last year as part of the money-laundering investigation.

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