WITH NO complaints of cheating or duping of funds so far against the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), the NGO run by controversial televangelist, Dr Zakir Naik, the Mumbai Police has closed its probe in the case. “For us to probe the irregularities, we require a complaint. In the IRF case, the Rs 60 crore donation which has been found to be suspicious, no one has come forward to lodge a complaint that they have been cheated or the money was fraudulently obtained by IRF. In the absence of a complainant, we have closed the case,” a senior official from the State Home Department told The Indian Express.
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A probe was ordered by the Maharashtra Government after reports appeared of two terrorists in the July Dhaka bombings being inspired by Naik. In August, the Mumbai Police submitted a report prepared by its Special Branch (SB), the intelligence wing of the Mumbai Police indicting Naik for making ‘pro-terror’ speeches and ‘influencing vulnerable minds’ to join terror organisations. The report also listed the finances of IRF and other companies relating to Naik while suggesting that central and state agencies probe the matter further.
Based on findings by various central and state agencies including the Mumbai Police, the Home Department earlier this month launched the process of cancelling its registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA) by issuing a show cause notice to the NGO. Sources said the Government is also in the process of declaring IRF as an unlawful association under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and an approval from the Union Cabinet is now being awaited. The probe revealed that close to Rs 60 crore was allegedly deposited from countries in the Middle East into the account of a relative of Zakir Naik from where it was then allegedly transferred to Naik’s wife, children and other relatives.
“During the probe, we came across one local bank account in which over Rs 50-Rs 60 crore had been transferred from middle eastern countries. This account allegedly belonged to a relative of Naik. When probed deeper, we found out that funds were subsequently transferred to the accounts of Naik’s wife, his children and even some of his close relatives,” said the official from the State Home Department, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The agencies had also identified four shell companies allegedly controlled by Naik and his family.
As reported by The Indian Express earlier, the RoC records show that Zakir Naik and his wife, Farhat Zakir Naik, were promoters-cum-directors of the two real estate companies- Longlast Construction and Right Property Solutions – till March 2013. Both these companies did not report any income in the seven-year period between FY’09 and FY’15, although one reported a surge in borrowings. Other than the two real estate firms, a video and software production company Harmony Media was incorporated in 2005. Zakir Naik was the managing director from May 8, 2006 till he resigned on March 13, 2013. His wife was appointed on the board on May 8, 2006, and resigned on March 15, 2013.