ED slaps money-laundering cases against Zakir Naik, IRF

Mumbai/New Delhi, Dec 30 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has lodged a case of suspected money-laundering against NRI televangelist Zakir Naik and his NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), officials said on Friday.

The ED first information report under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, follows similar complaints filed by the National Investigation Agency against Naik and IRF under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) two months ago.

Last month, the NIA had filed cases against Naik under the UAPA for allegedly promoting enmity between groups on religious and racial grounds, and raided over a dozen offices, residential premises, his Peace TV offices, and other locations, besides freezing a bank account of his NGO.

The ED has already probed certain bank documents and transaction details of the 51-year-old Naik and IRF and may issue summons to him shortly, an ED official said in Mumbai.

ED sources said in New Delhi that the agency has filed a case of money laundering on the basis of the FIR filed by the NIA that had taken over the case from Mumbai Police in mid-October.

“We will probe the inflow and outflow of foreign and domestic funding in Naik and his NGO’s accounts, which have been recovered during search operations by NIA,” the ED official said.

NIA’s investigation has also revealed that IRF had provided a scholarship of Rs 80,000 to an Islamic State sympathiser Abu Anas, a resident of Tonk in Rajasthan, in October 2015.

Naik first shot into the limelight when his name cropped up during the investigations into the Dhaka terror strike on July 1 after one of the terrorists allegedly claimed to have been inspired by his speeches.

Since then Naik has not returned to India and has been mostly travelling and preaching in Africa and Middle East, though he addressed the Mumbai media once via teleconference in July.

On November 15, the Union government banned the IRF for five years after declaring it as an “unlawful association” under the anti-terror laws, and the NIA followed up with raids on its premises in Mumbai on November 19.

Prior to that, the Union Home Ministry revoked the IRF’s permission to receive foreign donations under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act and placed IRF Education Trust under a prior permission category for the same.

The Maharashtra Police have lodged separate cases against Naik and IRF for allegedly radicalising Muslim youth and inspiring them to take up terror activities after some youngsters fled to fight for the IS earlier this year.

However, an IRF spokesperson has already said on behalf of Naik that they would challenge the government’s restrictive actions in the appropriate forum.

–IANS

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