New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached properties worth Rs 16.40 crore belonging to controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
According to the financial investigation agency, his properties were attached in Mumbai and Pune. ED had initiated an investigation on the basis of the charge sheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on October 26, 2017, in Mumbai’s special NIA court against Zakir and others.
“Islamic Research Foundation and M/s Harmony Media have been instrumental in the maximum circulation of such incriminating speeches. For such activities the accused was receiving funds from the Islamic Research Foundation as well as other unknown sources,” said ED in a statement on Saturday.
According to the NIA charge sheet, Naik deliberately and maliciously insulted the religious beliefs of Hindus, Christians, and non-Wahabi Muslims, particularly Shia, Sufi, and Barelwis, with the intention of outraging their religious feelings.
During the course of PMLA investigation, ED had made two provisional attachments totalling to Rs 34.09 crore.
Further investigations revealed that funds to the tune of Rs 49.20 crore were received in the non-resident external (NRE) bank accounts of Naik in India from his Dubai accounts. The origin of these deposits was from unknown sources.
Investigation suggests that in order to disguise the origin of funds and real ownership of properties, the initial payment made from the account of Naik was refunded and diverted to the accounts of his wife, son, and niece and rerouted again for the purpose of making bookings in the name of family members rather than Naik.
This has been revealed from the money trail established by the ED. The total attachment as proceeds of crime, in this case, is Rs 50.49 crore including the present attachment. Further investigation in the matter is underway.
Naik is facing probe both in India and Bangladesh after two suspects in the terror attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka in July 2016 claimed that they were inspired by Naik’s radical preaching. The two were staunch followers of Naik on Facebook and on the Peace Television Channel. The terror attack had left 22 people dead.
The 52-year-old currently holds a permanent residence status in Malaysia, which was confirmed last year by then-Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.