India yesterday brought formal charges of money laundering against controversial Muslim preacher Zakir Naik, accusing him of acquiring about Rs1.9 billion (RM114.5 million) worth of criminal assets.
Zakir, who is currently in Malaysia, was charged in absentia in a court in Mumbai.
The charge attached properties with alleged links to Zakir, including investments in mutual funds, properties in India, Dubai and London, and several bank accounts.
Zakir’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) received millions of dollars from 2003 to 2017 from “various dubious, suspicious or unknown sources” under a fund supposedly used for organising conferences, the Indian authorities said.
However, some of the money was found to have been transferred to Zakir’s personal bank accounts in India.
In 2016, India revoked Zakir’s citizenship and declared the IRF as an “unlawful association”.
India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) also told the court that Zakir had made “inflammatory speeches and lectures” which incited a number of Muslim youths in India to commit terrorist acts.
Zakir has strongly denied the accusations against him.
The television preacher’s Peace TV missionary channel was banned in India and Bangladesh.
Cable operators in Sri Lanka have recently blocked the television channel, following the Easter Sunday bombings which killed more than 250 people.
Zakir was denied entry into Canada and Britain in 2012, after reportedly expressing support for terrorist group al-Qaeda and for his speeches which have been blamed for inciting hatred against non-Muslims.
The preacher is currently living in Malaysia, where he was granted a permanent residence in 2012.
He is close to Malaysian government leaders and has embarked on several lecture tours despite protests from non-Muslim groups.
Despite an official request from New Delhi, Pakatan Harapan has insisted that he will not be sent back unless he breaks local laws.
Interpol has issued a red notice for Zakir.
Recently, it was reported that one of his disciples, 35-year-old Muhammad Zamri Vinoth Kalimuthu, was arrested in Perlis for allegedly insulting Hinduism.
Several police reports were lodged against Zamri over a sermon uploaded online that was deemed “blasphemous”.