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Zakir Naik charged with money laundering by India's financial crimes investigation agency: report

Updated May 03, 2019

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India's Enforcement Directorate (ED), India's financial crime investigating agency, on Thursday filed its first charge sheet against controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik and others, The Hindu reported. — Reuters/File
India's Enforcement Directorate (ED), India's financial crime investigating agency, on Thursday filed its first charge sheet against controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik and others, The Hindu reported. — Reuters/File

India's Enforcement Directorate (ED), a financial crimes investigation agency, on Thursday filed its first charge sheet against controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, accusing him of money laundering, The Hindu reported, adding that others had also been charged.

The charge sheet was filed in a special court in Mumbai under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. While this is the first time a charge sheet has been filed against Naik, it is the second charge sheet in the case.

According to BBC, Naik is accused of acquiring $28 million worth of criminal assets, which he has denied. Additionally, he has been accused of spreading hate speech and inciting terrorism by Indian authorities.

The ED, according to The Hindu, has identified assets worth 1.93 billion Indian rupees and attached properties valued at Indian Rs504,600 in the case so far.

The attached properties include investments in mutual funds, the Islamic International School building in Chennai, 10 flats, three godowns, two buildings, and land in Pune and Mumbai, besides 10 bank accounts, according to India's financial crime investigating agency.

Additionally, the ED has also identified properties linked to the preacher in Dubai and London, The Hindu reported.

The investigation was based on a first information report (FIR) registered by India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) for Naik's role in "unlawful activities, the use of provocative utterances, and for promoting enmity between different religious groups in India", The Hindu stated.

The ED added that most of Naik's speeches from 2007 to 2011 were "planned, organised, funded and promoted by the Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation (IRF)".

"The ED probe revealed that Mumbai-based Harmony Media allegedly recorded the speeches and forwarded the edited versions to the Global Broadcasting Corporation (Dubai) and the UK-based Islamic Research Foundation International (IRFI) for further broadcast on Peace TV across the globe," The Hindu reported, adding that DVDs were also circulated.

Additionally, the report added that as per the ED, the IRFI had received Indian Rs648,600 from 2003 to 2017, "mostly from various dubious, suspicious or unknown sources. A large part of the funds was used for organising ‘PEACE’ conferences".

From 2012 and 2016, Indian Rs492,000 were transferred from Naik's accounts in United Arab Emirates (UAE) to his personal accounts in India, the ED said.