The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday filed a prosecution complaint against controversial preacher and televangelist Zakir Naik's close aide Aamir Gazdar for money laundering. The chargesheet filed against Gazdar of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) has Naik’s elder sister, Nailah Noorani’s statement that says she acted as a front for companies established by her brother after 2013, Hindustan Times reported.
According to The Asian Age, Noorani said that she only signed cheques as told by Naik for the money to be transferred to her bank account.
Last year, the ED had registered a money laundering case against Naik's Islamic Research Foundation under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) on the basis of an FIR registered by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Based on the investigation conducted, Gazdar was arrested by the ED under Section 19 of the PMLA on 16 February and is currently in judicial custody.
"It was alleged that Dr Zakir Abdul Karim Naik and his associates were indulging in unlawful activities and through his provocative utterances, promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups in India.
"His inflammatory speeches and lectures have inspired and incited a number of Muslim youths in India to commit unlawful activities and terrorist acts," the statement from the ED said.
According to The Indian Express, ED said that Noorani claimed she only came to know about the existence of Harmony Media Pvt Ltd in 2013. According to the ED, Harmony Media, which produced videos of Naik’s “provocative speeches”, was formed in 2005.
Noorani told ED that Gazdar, too, was a director in the same companies. Noorani also provided details of the financial transaction in her statement. According to The Times of India, she said that between 2013 and 2016, she received Rs 15.06 crore as loan from her father's account and Rs 14 crore as loan from her mother's account. Noorani said she signed cheques without knowing the transactions and that it was only after checking the accounts did she notice that Rs 14 crore was given to Long Last Constructions (one of the companies) as loan and Rs 14.7 crore to Harmony Media.
The Indian Express reported that Noorani holds 95 percent of the shares in the companies, with arrested accused Gazdar holding five percent of the shares. “Gazdar has given an amount aggregating to the tune of Rs 2.35 crore during the period from 2005 to March 2016 to Harmony Media as a loan. This amount has been received back by him and no dues are pending," the ED chargesheet states, according to The Indian Express.
The Times of India reported that the complaint also stated that Gazdar first came in contact with Naik in 2003 when he had gone to Islam International School in Dongri for his son's admission. He said it was on Naik's request that he joined as a director in Harmony Media in 2005 and did not receive any remuneration.
The ED said during the investigation, it was found that certain dummy companies were established by Naik for routing the proceeds of crime. Out of the various companies established by Naik, Gazdar was a director in at least six of those.
The investigation also revealed that Gazdar, a confidant of Naik, was in close touch with him and also involved in illegal activities at the behest of Naik and was not only aware of many of his nefarious and illegal activities but actively collaborated and assisted in such activities.
"Gazdar has even gone beyond and knowingly assisted Naik and his associated companies in their financial shenanigans by providing 'accommodation entries' and parking and utilising these tainted monies through his personal bank accounts and the bank accounts of his family members," the ED statement read.
Noorani told ED that she was not aware from where the money to buy the companies originated. According to The Times of India, the companies include Harmony Media, Alpha Lubricants, Long Last Construction, Majestic Perfumes and Right Properties.
Further Hindustan Times reported that Noorani in her statement said that she was appointed the director of these companies and agreed to sign documents and cheques on the instructions of Naik. According to Hindustan Times, Noorani also said that she had never received any money from Naik. She told the agency, “I have never enquired about his job or business so I am not aware of his earnings in Dubai.”
Naik, 51, who is said to be staying in Saudi Arabia to evade arrest after some perpetrators of the Dhaka terror strike last year claimed they were inspired by him, has been booked along with unnamed Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) officials under section 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony) of the IPC, besides various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
A special court on 13 April issued a non-bailable warrant for arrest against Naik after he failed to appear before the ED despite four summons served on him. The statement added that the ED may file supplementary prosecution complaints against Naik as he had so far not appeared before it.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Apr 18, 2017 12:19 pm | Updated Date: Apr 18, 2017 12:35 pm