Agency, which issued 3 summons to preacher, says he must be present in person to record statement.
Mumbai: Controversial Islamic preacher and televangelist Zakir Naik’s legal representatives have submitted a letter to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) requesting the agency to record his statement by sending him a questionnaire via email that he could then reply to. As part of its Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) probe against Naik and his NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) since last December, ED has until now thrice sent summons to Naik asking him to present himself before it for questioning related to alleged irregularities in receipt of foreign donations worth `60 crore by his entities including IRF.
This is the second such request Naik has made to the ED. Earlier, Naik had requested the ED to let him record his statement via video conferencing. ED officials are however unlikely to accept his request as the agency wants to question Naik in person. Naik and his entities had received donations to the tune of around `200 crore between 2013-2016.
“The letter was submitted to ED on Friday asking it if Naik’s statement could be recorded via a questionnaire,” said Mahesh Mule, the lawyer who submitted the letter on behalf of Naik.
The letter stated that Naik could be arrested by the ED like his close confidant Amir Gazdar, despite him wanting to cooperate with the investigation by giving all the requisite details. “My client is willing to furnish all evidence and material that you may desire through email, video conferencing or telephonic conversation in case of urgency,” the letter stated.
This is the second communication, termed as response to the summons, from Naik’s side in a bid to avoid being present in person before the investigation agency to undergo questioning. The ED officials, meanwhile, have not responded to these requests.
Senior ED officials, however, stated, “We want Naik in person for recording his statement in the money laundering case. There are several aspects that are being investigated and we need his presence for ascertaining the same. We would, hence, not approve any other way of questioning him.”