The Prosecutor General has produced witness and evidence obtained through police investigation against Ismail Abdul Latheef, the owner of the ‘Maleesha Hajj Group’.
Latheef is accused of fraudulently obtaining funds from Maldivians who paid his company to go to Mecca last year to perform the obligatory Hajj pilgrimage.
According to the local media, the prosecution produced the evidence of 87 persons who were defrauded, two persons who worked for Maleesha who collected the funds from people, and bank statements belonging to Latheef.
Latheef’s lawyer told the court that the Maleesha Hajj Group was not on the list of local Hajj Groups selected by the Islamic Ministry to send people to Mecca, and said it had not up to date explained why the Maleesha Hajj Group was not permitted this time while it had been the previous two years.
The lawyer told the judge that the Maleesha Hajj Group did try to take the people through Sri Lanka because the Maldives did not allow it, and said Latheef and his family was still trying to find a way to send those people who had paid the company.
Latheef’s lawyer also said he would explain how the funds collected from the people were used.
Police began searching for 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 company.
Latheef was reported to police after people who had made payments realised that the group’s office had been closed for days without any response or notification.
Attending the Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. Clients of the company were not able to go to Mecca this year to perform the religious obligation.