The Tamil Nadu Police have blown the lid off an international network of former members or sympathisers of the defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) allegedly involved in raising funds for reviving the movement.
A Sri Lankan national, who was detained by the immigration authorities in Chennai recently and handed over to the ‘Q’ Branch-CID of the State police, revealed how the accused persons operating from European countries deployed operatives to draw huge money from dormant accounts using fake identities/documents, police sources told The Hindu on Thursday.
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Mary Francisco, 51, a native of Sri Lanka, moved to Canada many years ago and became a permanent resident there. She was intercepted at the Chennai Airport as she was preparing to board a plane to Mumbai. The suspect was found to possess an Indian passport obtained with fake documents.
She told investigators of the State intelligence how huge money lying unclaimed in bank accounts were targeted by two former members or sympathisers of the LTTE based in Germany and Switzerland. The duo that was part of a larger network of sympathisers operating out of India, Canada, Singapore and Malaysia would facilitate withdrawal of the money by deploying agents with fake documents. The money would be transferred to different bank accounts in India and abroad in the names of companies or individuals and used for works of the “movement”, the sources quoted her as saying.
Acting on the instructions of the two accused persons, Ms. Francisco said she came to India a couple of years ago and moved into a rented premises at Anna Nagar in Chennai. With the help of the rental agreement and domestic LPG connection papers, she managed to open accounts in different banks. With the help of some agents, she obtained a PAN card, Aadhaar card, voter identity card and Indian passport, the sources said.
Ms. Francisco alleged she was connected to a few others and assigned the task of withdrawing several crores of rupees lying in a joint account held at Indian Overseas Bank’s Fort Branch in Mumbai. The two accused persons, whom she said were living in Denmark and Switzerland, had claimed that the money was raised for funding the activities of the LTTE, the sources said.
The woman and her two accomplices accessed the details of the original account- holders and forged documents to impersonate their identities. She even managed to activate the mobile phone linked to the account in her name. However, intelligence officials who were tracking the movement of the suspects alerted the immigration authorities and arrested Ms. Francisco when she was about to leave for Mumbai, the sources said, adding that the amount withdrawn illegally from various accounts by various persons who were part of the racket over the years was under investigation.
After the investigating agency found prima facie evidence to invoke provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, the National Investigation Agency, which has been investigating a similar case, took over the probe. In the first week of October 2021, the NIA arrested a senior intelligence operative, Satkunam alias Sabesan, 47, of the LTTE in Chennai.
It was alleged that the suspect, also a Sri Lankan national, had transferred a large amount of money to former members or sympathisers to revive the movement. The agency was tracking Satkunam on the basis of inputs that he was involved in the trafficking of arms and drugs from Pakistan to Sri Lanka and used the proceeds of the crime to fund former members of the organisation.