TELEVANGELIST ZAKIR Naik has opposed the Enforcement Directorate’s plea seeking to declare him a fugitive economic offender, stating that the amount alleged to have been laundered by him was received through regular banking channels.
The ED had, in September, moved a plea seeking to declare him a fugitive economic offender under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018.
“The said amounts that originate abroad and are brought into India through regular banking channels, the source thereof cannot be questioned,” Naik had said in a reply to the ED’s plea filed on Monday. The reply states that the alleged laundered amount is broken up in three part — the funds received in the bank account of his organisation, the Islamic Research Foundation, from 2003-04 and 2016-17 to the tune of 64.86 crore; the nearly Rs 50 crore transferred from his account in UAE to his personal account in India between 2012-16; and Rs 79 crore received by Harmony Media Pvt Ltd, controlled by Naik through another company for setting up a studio in Mumbai and for supply of content.
Naik has said that in all three of these transactions, no person has been defrauded and hence no action can be initiated under the FEO Act.
“It is admitted in the notice issued by the department itself that some of that money was received by the accused through the Royal Families of Dubai and Gulf. Surely, the department does not want to further a submission that the royal families… were funding the accused in promoting terrorism in India,” the plea read.
It further stated that there is no evidence submitted by the ED to show that there is any nexus between Zaik and the IRF after it was banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act on November 17, 2016. It also stated that there is no proof to show that Zaik continues to be a member of the IRF.
“…The amount of money received by the applicant (Naik) in the form of donations under no stretch of imagination can be termed as proceeds of crime under law,” the plea reads, referring to the Rs 114.06 crore that the ED called has specified as the amount under contention. The court will hear arguments from both ED and Naik’s counsel on the plea.
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