Police have located and arrested the owner of the Maleesha Hajj Group Ismail Abul Latheef, who was sought by the police through Interpol after he fraudulently collected money from many Maldivians seeking ti perform Hajj this year.
Police have not provided details of the case but local media reported that Latheef was arrested while he was at the Mount Lavinia Hotel in Colombo.
Sri Lankan police told Haveeru that Abdul Latheef was suspected of being involved in a Sri Lankan money laundering ring, and that he was suspected of collecting money from Sri Lankans as well.
Local newspapers reported that Latheef has been brought to Male’ and taken to the Criminal Court, where the court granted police a five day extension of detention period.
The Maleesha Hajj Group was set up by Latheef and had an office in Male’. Maldivians who wished to perform the Hajj usually opt to go through Hajj groups rather than going alone, and are guided through the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
Police issued a notice for the arrest of the 42 year-old in late September after it was alleged that he had defrauded 175 people of MVR 12 million (US$778,000), after they made payments to the Maleesha Hajj Group to travel to Mecca to perform Hajj.
On October 2, Interpol issued a red notice to locate and apprehend Latheef.