ED seeks non-bailable warrant against Zakir Naik
Though Naik offered to speak to the ED via video-conferencing or answer a questionnaire, sources said the agency was not keen on the idea, saying it would ‘set a wrong precedent’Updated: Apr 11, 2017 15:07 IST
After the enforcement directorate (ED) attached property worth Rs18.37 crore belonging to controversial televangelist Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), it is set to tighten the noose further. The agency on Monday approached a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court, seeking a non-bailable warrant against him. “Naik has been non-cooperative and has not appeared despite repeated summons,” said a source close to the development. The court will hear arguments on Tuesday.
The move comes in the wake of Naik failing to appear before the agency, despite them issuing him four summons. The ED first issued summons to Naik in January, after which summons were issued at regular intervals. Sources in the agency said Naik’s overseas properties were also under the ED’s scanner. “Naik has failed to appear in person. Certain questions can only be answered by him. His presence is necessary,” said an ED officer privy to the investigation.
Though Naik offered to speak to the ED via video-conferencing or answer a questionnaire, sources said the agency was not keen on the idea, saying it would ‘set a wrong precedent’.
The ED alleged that Naik established dummy companies in India and abroad “for the diversion of funds”. The probe gathered momentum with the arrest of Aamir Gazdar, a close confidante of Naik. “Gazdar played a pivotal role in acquiring and disposing of the cash. Dummy companies were used to camouflage the diversion of funds received by Naik though his illegal activities and provocative speeches,” alleged ED.
The central agency said Gazdar was the director of at least six companies established by Naik, two of which are in England — Universal Broadcasting Corporation Ltd and Lords production Inc Ltd. The rest are based in Mumbai — Harmony Media Pvt Ltd, Long-lost constructions Pvt Ltd, Majestic Perfumes Pvt Ltd and Alpha Lubricants Pvt Ltd.
The transactions between Gazdar and Naik are also under the agency’s lens. The ED alleged that Gazdar would file IT returns in his wife and children’s names. ED revealed that videos of Naik’s provocative speeches were produced and exported to Dubai to be telecast. “Naik conducted transactions involving large sums through Gazdar, without leaving a trail of where the money came from or what it was used for. The cash was collected and disbursed to employees and officials of the IRF trust,” the agency has alleged.
The agency has recorded the statements of Naik’s siblings — his sister Nailah Noorani and brother Mohammad Abdul Karim Naik. They two said they were unaware of Naik’s financial dealings.
First Published: Apr 11, 2017 15:07 IST