THE ENFORCEMENT Directorate (ED) arrested an aide of Zakir Naik on Friday, its second arrest in the money-laundering case involving Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation.
Najmuddin Sathak, a jeweller based in Tamil Nadu, was arrested when he went to the ED office after being summoned for questioning.
While presenting him before the court of Special Judge M S Azmi, the ED claimed that Sathak was one of the directors of Dubai-based Global Broadcasting Corporation (GBS), which broadcast videos of Naik’s speeches through Peace TV, owned by the company, and through social media.
The ED claimed that Sathak and his co-director, S M Khalil, signed an agreement with the Mumbai-based Harmony Media Private Limited (HMPL), whose director Aamir Gazdar’s was the first arrest made in the case. Gazdar, currently out on bail, signed the agreement with Sathak and Khalil without coming face to face with each other, allegedly on Naik’s directions, ED said.
The ED further claimed that GBS was established in 2006 for launching Peace TV with the initial investment of 1.25 million dirhams by both directors. It added that GBC advanced money to HMPL to purchase recording equipment. The ED alleged that the overall arrangement between GBC and HMPL gives an impression that their business was without any economic rationale.
While Sathak claimed that GBC was sold in June 2017 to a UK national, the ED claimed that it was done after probe began in India into Naik’s businesses, alleging that the sale was done to “obfuscate the routes undertaken for suspected money laundering”. The ED also claimed that in 2017, Sathak came into the country via Nepal to evade investigating authorities.
The ED alleged that Sathak had a personal business relationship with Naik, having made an investment to the tune of 35 million dirhams in one of his real estate ventures in Dubai. Sathak’s advocate, Ishwar Nankani, denied the allegations, claiming that there was no evidence to what the ED was alleging.
Special Judge M S Azmi said that the arrest of Sathak was “necessary” at this juncture. “While it will be too early to comment if any case of money laundering is made out against the accused, prima facie, it is clear that the accused has established GBC. The said company of the accused had transaction with HMPL of Zakir Naik, who is the main accused in the predicate offence and in the allegations of money laundering. Various details as regard with transactions are required to be gathered from accused which is essential for the pending investigation,” the judge said, while sending Sathak to ED custody till March 27.