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ED chargesheets fugitive Islamic preacher Zakir Naik

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed charge sheet against fugitive Indian Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, accusing him of delivering "incriminating" speeches during the peace conferences organised by his Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) in Mumbai during 2007 and 2011, and charged him for money laundering of Rs 193.06 crore.
 
While filing the charge sheet, the ED requested the special court for punishment and confiscation of Naik's attached properties worth Rs 50.46 crore for involvement in money laundering. This is the second charge sheet against Naik, who fled India on July 1, 2016, and is currently living in Malaysia.
 
The attached properties belonging to Naik include investment in mutual funds, Islamic International School in Chennai, 10 residential flats, three godowns, two buildings and land in Pune and Mumbai, and 10 bank accounts worth Rs 50.46 crore.
 
"Proceeds of crime totalling Rs 193.06 crore have been quantified in the case. Other than these attachments, investigation in respect of investments of Zakir Naik in Dubai to ascertain and identify the properties outside the country is under progress," the ED said. 
 
The ED had initiated investigation based on the FIR registered by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against Naik and his associates for his involvement in unlawful activities through his provocative utterances, thus promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups in India. 
 
The NIA had filed a final charge sheet in the Special NIA Court in Mumbai on October 26, 2017.
 
"Investigations revealed that most of the incriminating speeches of Naik were delivered during the peace conferences organised by IRF in Mumbai during 2007-2011. The conferences were planned, organised, funded and promoted by the IRF and people of other religions were openly converted to Islam by Naik," the ED said.
 
The agency said that Naik's inflammatory speeches and lectures have inspired and incited a number of Muslim youths in India to commit unlawful activities and terrorist acts. 
 
"His thoughts created disharmony amongst various faiths and created hatred amongst people. The speeches and lectures were recorded in audio-visual format by Harmony Media Pvt Ltd, Mumbai and thereafter the recordings were edited by it for public viewing." 
 
Harmony Media forwarded the edited version to Global Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), Dubai and IRF International, UK for further broadcast on Peace TV across the globe, according to the Directorate.
 
"Further, master DVD of Naik's speeches were made for further replication and distributed to general public for maximum circulation."
 
During the investigation, the ED said, it learnt that IRF received Rs 64.86 crore during 2003-04 to 2016-17, mostly from various dubious and unknown sources. 
 
"Majority of the funds were utilised for organising peace conferences. Provocative speeches were made and religious conversion to Islam were propagated during these peace conferences." 
 
The IRF received donations in response to the appeals made by Naik during the course of his controversial speeches and thus these donations were proceeds of crime emanating from criminal activity, said the ED, adding that the money trail led to identification of one school building in Chennai valued at Rs 6.2 crore, mutual funds of Rs 9.41 crore and ground floor of a building in Mumbai, and these were provisionally attached. 
 
It also revealed that Rs 49.20 crore was received during 2012-2016 from Naik's accounts maintained in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to his personal accounts in India. 
 
"Source of his income in UAE is not known. Naik transferred these funds to India and purchased properties in Mumbai and Pune by layering of funds in the name of his close relatives. He used the funds to the tune of Rs 17.65 crore for purchase of properties.
 
"In order to disguise the origin of funds and real ownership of properties, the initial payments made from Naik's accounts were diverted to the accounts of his wife, son and niece and re-routed again for the purpose of making bookings in the name of his family members."
 
It further said that several companies were established by Naik in the UK and India by placing his close confidants and relatives as directors to camouflage the diversion of funds received by him and his trust through his "illegal activities" of provocative speeches, and also for propagating hate speeches. 
 
Two persons -- Amir Gazdar and Najamuddin Sathak -- have also been arrested in connection with this case by the ED.
 
"Investigation has also revealed that Zakir Naik was also involved in suspicious unaccounted cash transactions. Further investigation is under progress."
 
IANS
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

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