ED attaches assets worth Rs 16.40 cr in Zakir Naik case

Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached properties worth over Rs 16.40 crore in its ongoing investigation against Islamic preacher and televangelist Zakir Abdul Karim Naik, the agency said on Saturday.

In a statement, the ED said the attached properties were based in Maharashtra’s Mumbai and Pune cities and that the action was taken under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The ED had already made two provisional attachments worth Rs 34.09 crore in connection with the case which the agency took over on the basis of National Investigation Agency (NIA)’s October 26, 2017 chargesheet filed before a Special Judge in Mumbai.

The total value of all Zakir Naik-related properties attached by the ED stands at Rs 50.49 crore, including the latest attachment.

The ED said that funds to the tune of Rs 49.20 crore were received in the NRE Bank accounts of Naik in India from his Dubai accounts.

“The origin of these deposits was from unknown sources. Naik used the funds to the tune of Rs 17.65 crore for purchase of properties from builders like Salim Kodia, partner in MK Enterprises; Munaf Vadgama, partner in Aafiyah Realtors; Sameer Khan, partner in Pacific Orient Genesis Associates; Musa Lakdawala, partner of Lakdawala and Yash Associates; Fatima Heights (Mumbai); Aafiyah Heights (Mumbai); ENGRACIA (Pune) and a project at Bhandup, Mumbai,” the ED statement said.

In a bid to hide the origin of funds and real ownership of properties, the ED said 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 making bookings in the name of family members rather than Naik.

“This has been revealed from the money trail established by ED,” said the statement.

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 an intention of outraging their religious feelings”.

Islamic Research Foundation and Harmony Media had been instrumental in maximum circulation of such incriminating speeches, said the chargesheet, adding that for such activities, Naik was receiving funds from Islamic Research Foundation as well as other unknown sources,” read the chargesheet.

In November 2016, the NIA had registered a case against Naik — who is currently living in Malaysia and has been granted permanent resident status there — under the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The preacher came on the security agencies’ radar after some terrorists, allegedly involved in the attack on a cafe in Dhaka in July 2016, reportedly claimed they were inspired by his speeches.

On November 17, 2016, India declared Naik’s Mumbai-based NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) an unlawful association under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.