HARMONY MEDIA, a media production company floated by controversial televangelist Dr. Zakir Naik, reportedly spent a considerable sum on post-production activities, such as placing dummy candidates who ‘posed’ questions to Naik, composing crowds, and even adding special effects of ‘fake’ applause, to the speeches delivered by Naik and aired on Peace TV.
The Enforcement Directorate has come across this detail while probing a money laundering case against Naik and his proscribed outfit, the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), sources said. Last week, the central agency had arrested Naik’s close confident Aamir Abdul Mannan Gazdar, a marble trader by profession, in the case.
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“The speeches were mainly on religious conversions. They were given editing effects to create an impression on the viewers. Harmony Media spent a substantial sum on this,” said an official. Money was also transferred from the IRF to Islamic International School or IIS , its affiliate, in the guise of scholarships and for events organised by the IIS.
“The IRF wanted to nurture young kids who spoke flawless English but were deeply religious and followed the tenets of Islam, and could preach them in the future. Therefore, they funded many scholarships and other events to achieve this objective,” a source said. The central agency has also found that between January and August 2016, Gazdar had allegedly carried out a transaction of Rs 5 crore in cash on behalf of Naik. The agency claims that in the past 10 years, Gazdar handled cash and real estate transactions worth Rs 200 crore.
The ED probe has found that Harmony Media was selling its content to a UAE-based company called Global Broadcast Corporation. Harmony Media received around Rs 42 crore from the company for the content. While the UAE-based company was responsible for airing the content in Asia and Africa, two London based companies — Universal Broadcasting Corporation Ltd and Lords Production Inc. Ltd — were responsible for broadcasting the content in Europe.
Investigation has also revealed that money received by Naik mostly as donations was diverted to many Mumbai-based dummy firms to buy properties in Mumbai and Pune. “Our probe has revealed that between 2003 and 2016, the IRF received over Rs 60 crore through donations and all this was used to buy real estate. Also, 30 per cent of the contributors were foreign nationals,” the source added.
According to sources, between 2012 and 2016, Naik transferred Rs 47.67 crore from his Emirates Islamic Bank account to Union Bank of India. Naik then transferred Rs 27.41 crore to another account held with UBI. Money was transferred in the accounts jointly held with his wife and son and another chunk to Aafiya Realtors.
The probe is now focusing on Mumbai-based hawala dealers who were allegedly used by Naik in UAE, Dubai and Mumbai. “Gazdar is not revealing much on the hawala dealers. The money travelled from UAE to Mumbai through hawala channels and we are probing this. The hawala dealer will be an important link in the money laundering case,” said the official.
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