Home / News/ Presidential Investigation Unit summons Hajj Committee officials over corruption allegations

Presidential Investigation Unit summons Hajj Committee officials over corruption allegations

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  • Muslim Affairs Ministry official denies allegations

 By Charumini de Silva

The Presidential Investigation Unit has informed top Hajj Committee officials to appear before it tomorrow to probe alleged money laundering through Hajj pilgrims and vends quota, sources told the Daily FT.

Posts, Postal Services and Muslim Religious Affairs Ministry Secretary R.M.D.B. Meegasmulla and Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs Department Director M.R.M. Malik have been summoned by the Presidential Investigation Unit to probe alleged corruption in Hajj quotas, the Daily FT learns.

The Hajj Committee was formed under the patronage of the ministry and managed by Board Chairman Dr. Ziyad Thaha as well as three top Sri Lankan lawyers, namely Ilyas Admani, Shiraz Noordeen and S.M.M. Yaseen, former Department of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs Director Y.L.M. Navavi, All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama Additional Secretary Moulavi Thaseem and former Ministry of City Planning and Water Supply Additional Secretary Muinudeen Hanifa to maintain the system according to the law.

Last month the All Ceylon Hajj Organisation (ACHO) called on President Maithripala Sirisena to appoint a Commission to probe alleged corruption within the Hajj pilgrimage committee at the Department of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs, which comes under the purview of the Muslim Religious Affairs Ministry.

ACHO Vice President M.S.M. Mohammad on 25 June lodged a complaint of alleged money laundering amounting to Rs. 86.4 million by the Hajj/Umrah Committee attached to the Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs Department. 

The organisation pointed out that the Posts, Postal Services and Muslim Religious Affairs Minister A.H.M Haleem and his brother A.H.M. Fahim, who is also the Private Secretary to the Minister, were continuously violating Hajj criteria and guidelines for the Hajj pilgrimage.

The ACHO also alleged that despite some 20,000 pilgrims currently being on the Hajj Committee’s waiting list, the committee had overlooked several individuals on the list and had given the opportunity to outsiders after bribes were obtained.

The Daily FT learns that the ACHO is to file a complaint against the Hajj/Umrah Committee for collecting Rs. 25,000 from Hajis, which is against the Hajj criteria and guidelines for the Hajj pilgrimage.

Hajj agents also heaped charges on the Hajj Committee, saying that that it had violated directives made by the Supreme Court on Hajj criteria and guidelines for the Hajj pilgrimage on several occasions. The Presidential Investigation Unit had earlier recorded statements from the Hajj agents regarding the matter.

On 3 July Hajj agents held a protest outside the Posts, Postal Services and Muslim Religious Affairs Ministry against the alleged corruption within the Hajj/Umrah Committee.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Religious Affairs Minister’s Private Secretary A.H.M. Fahim, responding to allegations of money laundering through hajj pilgrims and the vends quota, last week denied all claims made by United Hajj Union agencies to the Hajj Committee and Ministry of Muslim Religious Affairs on 24 June.

He said that the United Hajj Union, which had made the allegations, was neither an association nor a union as it had not been registered under the ministry. According to him, the Minister wants to pursue fundamental defamation action against these purportedly false allegations.

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