Maleesha Hajj Group owner Islmail Abdul Latheef ,who is being accused of fraudulently collecting funds from Maldivians who wanted to perform Hajj in Mecca last year, has denied charges against him in the Criminal Court.
Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed today asked Ismail Abdul Latheef to state the reasons as to why he had denied the charges. Latheef requested he be given time to respond.
Judge Abdulla Mohamd asked Ismail Abdul Latheef to state his reasons during the next hearing held.
At today’s hearing the state was given the opportunity to produce evidence against him, however the state attorney refused to produce the evidence before Ismail Abdul Latheef stated his reasons as to why he was denying the charges.
The PG has alleged that Latheef had fraudulently obtained MVR 8 million (US$519,000 ) from many people after they made payments to the Maleesha Hajj Group to travel to Mecca to perform Hajj.
Latheef was arrested in Colombo, Sri Lanka in November 2012, a month after police issued an Interpol red notice to locate and apprehend him. Authorities were reported to have arrested Latheef while he was in the Mount Lavinia Hotel in Colombo.
Hajj groups are authorised by the government to provide transport and accommodation for pilgrims in Mecca, as well as offering guidance in helping them complete the religious rituals.
At the time, Sri Lankan police told local newspaper Haveeru that Abdul Latheef was suspected of being involved in a Sri Lankan money laundering ring as well, and that he was also suspected of collecting money from Sri Lankans.
Latheef’s father is the head of the Athama Hajj Group.