Zakir Naik rejects ED’s charges, says all money sent to India accounted for

Controversial preacher Zakir Naik has countered the Enforcement Directorate’s claim that he did not have any known source of income as a lie, saying that he has multiple businesses and revenue streams, which are reflected in the tax returns

Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, on May 10, 2019, termed as a lie, the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED’s) claim that he transferred over Rs 49 crores to his bank accounts in India over a period of six years, despite not having any ‘known source of income’. The agency had, on May 2, filed a prosecution complaint before a special court in Mumbai against Naik, charging him with money laundering and creating illegal real estate assets. The ED had stated that Naik did not have any ‘known source of income’ but still managed to transfer more than Rs 49 crores to bank accounts in India.

In a detailed statement released to the media by his PR team, Naik said, “Why is the ED lying? When everyone – including all the government agencies – know that I have multiple businesses and revenue streams and my earnings have always reflected in the tax returns I’ve filed, why is ED lying about it?” He further questioned if the ‘pressure was so huge’ that they (ED) need to lie, to achieve the goal set out by their political bosses? Naik claimed to be an NRI since 2010, living and earning outside India.

See also: ED seizes Delhi flat, Haryana land of Delhi minister’s brother, under FEMA

“I earn over a crore a month and I send money back to India, as and when required. I send it from my Dubai account to my India account and every penny is then accounted for in my tax returns, the papers for which are with the Indian agencies,” he said. “Between 2010 and 2016 – in the six year period – I must have sent 49 crores to India. How is sending 65 lakhs per month a problem? For a country that receives more than Rs 6,000 crores every month from UAE-based Indians, how is my Rs 65 lakhs a problem?” he asked.

“I am a full-time preacher and part-time businessman. I do not charge for my lectures, nor do I earn from Peace TV, so I do need another revenue stream to survive, which I have. Implying that I could survive outside India without earning anything is not just illogical, it’s childish,” he added.

ED files charge sheet against Zakir Naik for laundering money into real estate

The ED has filed a charge sheet against controversial preacher Zakir Naik under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, on charges of laundering money and creating illegal real estate assets worth crores

May 3, 2019: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed its first direct charge sheet against controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, on May 2, 2019, on charges of laundering criminal money to the tune of Rs 193 crores and allegedly creating illegal real estate assets worth crores, in India and abroad, officials said. The agency filed the prosecution complaint under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) before a special court in Mumbai and said Naik’s ‘inflammatory speeches and lectures have inspired and incited a number of Muslim youth in India to commit unlawful activities and terrorist acts’.

This is the second charge sheet in the case by the ED but the first against Naik that specifically underlines his role. The ED said a total amount of Rs 193.06 crores had been identified as proceeds of crime. In the past, the agency has attached Naik’s properties, investments made in mutual funds, the Islamic International School in Chennai, 10 flats, three godowns, two buildings and land in Pune and Mumbai and 10 bank accounts. It said Naik also ‘made investments in Dubai, where he is developing high-end bungalows’. The ED is expected to attach these overseas assets in the coming days, a senior official said.

See also: ED attaches properties worth over Rs 40 crores, of expelled DMK leader Alagiri’s son

The agency alleged in the charge sheet that the money trail probe against Naik and his associates, found that the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), which is owned and promoted by Naik, ‘received an amount of Rs 64.86 crores, between 2003-04 to 2016-17, mostly from dubious or suspicious sources and a majority of the funds were utilised for organising peace conferences’. It added that Naik transferred funds from abroad to India and purchased properties in Pune and Mumbai, by ‘layering of funds’ and in the name of his close relatives. “Investigation has also revealed that Naik was also involved in suspicious unaccounted cash transactions,” it said.

The central probe agency, till now, has arrested two of Naik’s aides Amir Gazdar and Najamuddin Sathak. Naik is absconding and at present, is stated to be in Malaysia. Naik was booked by the ED in 2016, based on a National Investigation Agency (NIA) FIR that was registered under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The NIA said the Islamic preacher ‘deliberately and maliciously insulted the religious beliefs of Hindus, Christians and non-Wahabi Muslims, particularly Shias, Sufis and the Barelwis, with the intention of outraging their religious feelings’. It had said Naik’s organisation, IRF and Ms Harmony Media, had ‘been instrumental in the maximum circulation of such incriminating speeches’.

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