By Anand Singh
New Delhi, March 30 (SocialNews.XYZ) Arrested Campus Front of India (CFI) National General Secretary KA Rauf Sherif, employed with Race International LLC in Oman as General Manager, which was said to be a company dealing in mobile accessories through job work by Chinese factories and general trading of customised products, was not involved in the business of trading face masks. This was just an alibi created by him to receive funds from abroad in the form of commission for trading of face masks, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) charge sheet in the Popular Front of India (PFI) case has revealed.
The ED had filed its first charge sheet against five office bearers of the PFI and its student wing, the CFI, including Sherif, in connection with its money laundering probe in February this year.
The ED charge sheet which has been viewed by IANS, claims that Sherif has admitted he was employed with Race International LLC, involved in manufacturing of mobile accessories through job work by Chinese factories and general trading of customised products as per client requirements.
The ED charge sheet claimed that information collected from open sources revealed that Race International group started its operations from Hong Kong as electronics spares and accessories supplier and gradually increased their service domains to cater to all telecommunications and security needs.
The ED further claimed that after examining the details of the Race International LLC, it is noticed that the company is part of Race SPZ group, with a corporate office at Guangzhou, China.
"The head office is found to be at Wanchai, Hong Kong and registered in the name and style of Race Technology Industrial Limited. It is interesting to note that other than the contact page of their website, the group has carefully masked its connection with China," said the charge sheet.
It said, "It advertises itself as the leading supplier at Middle East, Oman and India in electronic gadgets, security systems and telecommunication systems and as one of the conglomerates based in the Middle East providing various services in the technology sector.
The ED highlighted that the remaining concerns under the group have been classified in their own web site as 'outlets'. "The company Race International LLC is denoted as such as an outlet of the group in the Sultanate of Oman in Ruwi and Salalah. Other outlets in the Sultanate of Oman have been seen to be named as SPG Gold, while other outlets are seen to be in India's Kerala in various places such as Malappuram, Ernakulam, Calicut, Kollam and Kalpetta under the name of Spare Zone, which are electronic spares and accessories stores," it said.
The ED claimed that from the information gathered regarding the company, it is seen that the Race International LLC is essentially a part of group of companies which is based out of China and that the main business seems to be dealing in electronic spares, telecommunication devices and security solutions.
Commenting on Sherif's claims, the ED said, "Sherif had stated with reference to the trading of face masks that all consignments were exported from the Guangzhou Genercon Medical Company in China because Race International LLC was already purchasing goods from the said factory. However, as per the profile of the group of companies analysed, it is seen that there are no indications available as per the details available in the public domain that the company has indulged in any face mask trading business."
The ED claimed that Sherif in his statement to the agency said that Race International LLC was also engaged in mask trading and knew factories which could supply mask and PPE items in cheap rate from China (Guangzhou); that Race International also advised him to find buyer for mask in Qatar and other countries.
"In relation to his Sherif's work of arranging face masks consignments to Oman and Qatar, he also stated that the consignment amount excluding his profit was being transferred to Race International's bank account from his clients company's account officially. Hence, it is evident that even if he was doing business of mask trading, he was doing it on behalf of Race International which does not justify his abnormally high earnings from such business especially when he was getting a salary of 400 Oman Riyal and commission of 200 Oman Riyal per month from Race International," it said.
The ED claimed that at the prevailing exchange rate of one Oman Riyal is around Rs 190 per month, Sherif's salary was Rs 76,000 and commission of Rs 38,000 per month.
"During March/April 2020 till September/October 2020, the commission earned by Sherif, as per his own admission, was around Rs 90-95 lakh, which would imply that he was earning Rs 10-15 lakh per month in the form of commission,
"Such obnoxiously high earnings for a mere employee of Race International, who was otherwise earning around Rs 1.14 lakh per month is highly implausible," the ED said.
The ED also said that Sherif justified a vast majority of payments received in his bank accounts from abroad or through NRI accounts as commission for the trading of face masks, not even a single agreement, contract, message etc was retrieved from his mobile phone, pen drive or email which contained any such conversation or agreement with any person.
"The findings clearly establishes the fact that receipt of commission from trading of masks was just an alibi created by Sherif to receive funds from abroad," the ED alleged.
The ED also noted that Sherif being a member of the CFI had visited Oman on the reference of his friend Fahad, another CFI member and Noufal Shareef, who was none other than PFI DEC Secretary based in Oman. Hence, the CFI and PFI connection in strategic placement of Sherif in Oman is well established.
The ED also said that Sherif's accountancy knowledge, would prove to be a key figure in managing the fraudulent transfer of funds collected by PFI abroad. "On the reference of Shareef, Sherif was inducted in Race International LLC, a company owned and controlled predominantly by Chinese nationals. Trading of goods between China and other Gulf countries in the name of Race International LLC would prove not only as an alibi for employment of Sherif and movement of funds but also as a medium for trade-based money laundering," it alleged.
Sherif was arrested by ED on December 12, last year when he was trying to flee to Oman.
The ED case was primarily registered in 2018 taking the 2013 Narath PFI armed training case as the predicate offence. Later, the case registered by the UP Police against Siddique Kappan and three others last year was included as part of the money laundering case against PFI.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at email@example.com)