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Money laundering: ED questions IRF employees

Sources said the investigations are on to trace the source of funds, including foreign funding, as “substantial amount of money was deposited in the IRF’s account and Naik’s personal account.” The agency is questioning the IRF to ascertain why the money was deposited and how it was spent.

mumbai Updated: Jan 25, 2017 00:13 IST
HT Correspondent
Dr Zakir Naik president of Islamic Research Foundation.
Dr Zakir Naik president of Islamic Research Foundation.(HT file photo)

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday questioned officials of the now banned Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) in a money-laundering case against controversial televangelist Dr Zakir Naik.

Sources said the investigations are on to trace the source of funds, including foreign funding, as “substantial amount of money was deposited in the IRF’s account and Naik’s personal account.” The agency is questioning the IRF to ascertain why the money was deposited and how it was spent.

The questioning comes after summons were issued to IRF, followed by Naik. When asked whether arrests were made, a senior officer said, “Investigation has just started.”

IRF has been banned for five years following a government notification, declaring it to be an ‘unlawful association’ under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

The central agency has filed enforcement case information reports (ECIR) against Naik and is probing whether his funds came from those who were inspired by his speeches. The investigation will focus on whether Naik gained financially from these transactions.

After the organisation was banned, the NIA registered a case against Naik and the IRF on charges of inciting Muslim youth to indulge in violence and promoting enmity between groups on the basis of religion and race. The FIR has accused him of giving speeches that spread communal harmony. The agency also charged Naik with indulging in activities that are prejudicial to national integration.

Naik has been out of the country since reports emerged that his sermons influenced a few of the Bangladeshi attackers, who targeted an eatery in Dhaka on July 1.

Court allows plea of IRF trustee

The special court on Tuesday allowed plea of Amir Abdul Mannan Gazdar’s, claimed to be one of the trustee of the now banned Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and a director with Harmony Media for return of cash seized from his house.

Gazdar’s house and premises were raided by the NIA on November 19, 2016, after the agency registered a case against televangelist and IRF founder Zakir Naik, alleging that he is one of the trustee and director of institutes associated with the IRF. The agency had seized Rs9.80 crore and gold jewellery worth lakhs. 

Gazdar claimed that the cash and the jewellery was collected for the wedding of his daughter. He also claimed that about Rs5 crore from Rs9.80 crores were borrowed from his brother. 

The NIA had objected to his plea stating that the investigation on the possession of such huge amount of cash with him is underway. The prosecution, while arguing the plea, contended that they suspect that the money confiscated from Gazdar’s residence belonged to IRF. 

Also read: Mumbai enforcement directorate summons televangelist Zakir Naik