Controversial Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik has been accused by India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) of accumulating assets worth RM113 million by diverting funds and donations received from Islamic countries meant for the welfare of Muslims.
The Times of India reported that ED’s money laundering probe against Zakir showed that the assets included at least 20 flats in the cities of Mumbai and Pune in India, that were booked in his wife’s and son’s names.
Based on the probe, the paper reported that Zakir, who is a permanent resident in Malaysia, used his Islamic Research Foundation, meant for the social welfare of the Muslim community, to organise dubious donations and diverted the proceeds to purchase properties.
He had allegedly raised donations amounting to RM38.3mil from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman, besides India, between 2014 and 2017.
On March 22, Zakir’s close aide Najmudin Sathak was arrested by ED officers under the Prevention of Money Laundering (PMLA) for his role in actively assisting Zakir and aiding him in money laundering by transferring funds of dubious origin from the UAE to facilitate production and broadcasting incriminating videos for spreading communal hatred and radicalisation of a particular community.
The Times of India further reported that transaction trails showed Zakir’s investment of RM7.7mil in three properties in Mazgaon, Mumbai, routed through the bank accounts of his mother, father and sister and the source of funds remains unexplained.
Zakir has denied the charges against him, claiming that his reputation was being tarnished by religious fanatics in India.
Zakir, who is wanted in India for several alleged money-laundering and terrorism cases, has been living in Malaysia.
Last July, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that Malaysia would not deport Dr Zakir “as long as he is not creating any problems” here.
Dr Mahathir had said that the government would not bow to external pressure.
Zakir has been condemned by various groups in Malaysia over his sermons that have been described as being extremist and disrespectful of other religions.