The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday said it had attached religious preacher Zakir Naik’s assets worth Rs 16.40 crore in connection with a money laundering case, PTI reported. The investigating agency said the assets are in the name of his family members in Mumbai and Pune.
Naik has been under investigation since 2016, when the Centre banned his Islamic Research Foundation for five years. Indian security agencies have been monitoring him ever since allegations surfaced that he had inspired one of the militants involved in the Dhaka restaurant attack on July 1, 2016.
A provisional order for the attachment has been issued under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. “In order to disguise the origin of funds and real ownership of the properties, the initial payments made from Naik’s bank account were refunded and diverted to the accounts of his wife, son and niece and re-routed again for the purpose of making bookings in the name of the family members rather than Naik,” the agency’s statement said.
The Enforcement Directorate listed the attached properties as Fatima Heights and Aafiyah Heights in Mumbai, an unidentified project in Mumbai’s Bhandup and a project named Engracia in Pune.
The development is the third of its nature in the case. Assets worth a total of Rs 50.49 crore have been attached, the agency said.
Naik has a permanent residency permit in Malaysia. India’s Ministry of External Affairs had made a formal request to Malaysia to deport Naik in January 2018. India has an extradition treaty with Malaysia.
In July 2018, ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar claimed that India’s request was under “active consideration” with Malaysian government. However, a day later, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that his country had no plan to deport Naik to India as he had been given permanent residency status.