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Was given Rs 149 crore for safekeeping: Zakir’s aide

Author: TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: May 1, 2017
URL:   http://m.timesofindia.com/city/mumbai/was-given-rs-149-crore-for-safekeeping-zakirs-aide/articleshow/58450807.cms

Islamic preacher Zakir Naik's close business associate Aamir Abdul Mannan Gazdar, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case against Naik and Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), has told the National Investigation Agency (NIA) that he was given Rs 148.9 crore in cash by Naik's manager Aslam Qureshi between August and October 2016 for safekeeping, before it was taken away in instalments.

This was the time when Naik had already come on the security establishment's radar for his hate speeches that allegedly incited youth to commit terror acts.

Gazdar holds 5% stake in Naik's companies Longlast Constructions Pvt Ltd and Harmony Media Pvt Ltd, and is a 50% shareholder in his two other firms, Alpha Lubricants and Majestic Perfumes. There has not been any transaction in the latter two firms, he claimed. The remaining stake in each of these companies is held by Naik's sister Nailah Noorani. Gazdar is also a trustee in Islamic Research Foundation International and director in Naik's UK-based ventures Universal Broadcasting Corporation Pvt Ltd Co and Lord Production Pvt Ltd Co.
According to Gazdar's statement to the NIA, Naik's modus operandi was to form shell companies and trusts and use them to make big money transfers via a web of deceit with "friendly loans from family members and trusted aides, movement of huge amounts of illegal cash and real estate investments". Naik's pointpersons were his kin, including sister and brothers-in-law, and trusted aides. After he became an NRI in 2013, he transferred share holdings belonging to himself and wife Farhat to his sister.

In her statement to the NIA, Nailah confirmed that she had received loans amounting to Rs 29 crore from her mother Roshan Naik and late father Abdul Karim Naik between 2013-14 and 2016-17. From this, Nailah regularly gave out loans to Longlast Constructions and Harmony Media. Nailah's husband, Nausad Noorani, told the NIA that in 1996, Naik formed a trust, Islamic Dimensions, and made him and other family members trustees. However, Nausad insisted that the trust was largely dormant for the last 15 years.

Gazdar said he first met Naik in 2003 in connection with his son's interview for school admission. They struck a friendship after Gazdar refused to take brokerage for two properties worth Rs 2.4 crore and Rs 18 crore that he had shown to Naik. In 2005, Naik invited Gazdar to be a partner in a company he intended to float —Harmony Media—that would make content to be telecast on Peace TV. Gazdar claimed Global Broadcasting Corporation in Dubai, for which Harmony Media was making content, was the source of funds for the latter.

Gazdar told the NIA that he would regularly sign blank cheques and income tax returns for Naik's firms and keep cash deposits sent by him in safe custody before handing it over to his trusted aides without raising a question. He also gave "friendly" loans—Rs 41.5 lakh to Longlast in March 2016 and Rs 2.35 crore to Harmony Media between 2005 and 2016—and received loans of Rs 8.35 crore from Naik's parents and through his wife's bank account, for a marble factory but these were returned after the venture did not take off.

Even Nailah told the NIA that she would regularly sign cheques and documents as per her brother's instructions.
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