Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate for money laundering, received crores of funds from unidentified “well-wishers” from several Middle East countries over the years for his speeches that were allegedly used to incite “terror activities”.
The Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), Mumbai-based charity trust promoted and controlled by Naik, “allegedly received funds in the form of donations and zakat (a form of alms giving in Islam) from domestic as well as overseas donors from countries like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Malaysia among others,” PTI quoted the Enforcement Directorate as saying.
After the National Investigation Agency (NIA) registered a case against Naik in 2016, the ED too filed a case of alleged money laundering. Naik, declared as a proclaimed offender, is known to have sought refuge in Malaysia after the case was registered.
According to the ED probe report, the IRF maintained various bank accounts in which funds from the donors were deposited. “These bank accounts are held with Citi Bank, DCB Bank Ltd and Union Bank of India,” it said.
The agency said its probe found that the total quantum of funds received in the bank accounts of IRF, from 2003-04 to 2016-17, is to the tune of Rs 64.86 crore.
“The donors remain unidentified as their names in the receipts are mentioned as ‘well-wishers’. As the donations are made by cash, only the names of the donors are mentioned on the receipts without disclosing their contact details, which raises suspicion of being bogus or sham entries,” the ED report said.
“Out of these funds, a majority of the funds were utilised for organising ‘peace conferences’, purchase of capital equipment, payment of salaries and other miscellaneous expenses. An annual event ‘Peace Conference’ was held by the IRF under the leadership of Naik,” the ED said.
According to the ED, investigation revealed most of Naik’s controversial speeches were delivered during the Peace Conferences organised by IRF in Mumbai between 2007 and 2011. The ED claimed these speeches were aimed at converting people to Islam and to inspire youth to commit “terrorist acts”.
(With PTI inputs)