The Federal Investigation Agency has arrested 13 people alleged of working for a foreign intelligence agency, engaging in hawala/hundi and other illicit activities.
According to a spokeswoman for the FIA Sindh, the FIA’s Commercial Banking Circle Karachi apprehended 13 suspects, including employees of the Swiss Exchange Company, in four separate intelligence-based searches.
The suspects were also involved in providing financial support to the Pakistan-based network of the foreign intelligence agency. They also offered critical Pakistani intelligence to foreign agencies and aided anti-national groups. The organization has been in operation for 7 years.
FIA Director Sindh Amir Farooqi stated that credible information had been received from reliable sources that M/S Swiss International Exchange Company (Pvt) Limited, located in Jinnah Cottage Jamshed Quarter, MA Jinnah Road, Karachi, was running an illegal business of Hawala.
The individuals were accused of carrying out transactions in and out of Pakistan without using financial systems, resulting in a massive loss to the government.
They were also in violation of sections 4/5/23 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act 1947, hence an investigation was launched for further action.
To arrest the alleged perpetrators, FIA Director Farooqi prepared a raiding squad comprised of FIA personnel from the Commercial Banking Circle Karachi and others.
CBC officers visited the premises of M/S Swiss International Exchange Firm (Pvt) Limited and conducted a raid on the firm’s facilities, where cashier Nasir Hussain and branch manager Asif Raza, as well as other company employees, were present.
Once the CBC team members introduced themselves and stated the reason for the raid, the corporate authorities searched the premises. During the search, a suspect door was discovered that led to an additional room behind the exchange company’s main premises. In the room, a man was seen operating 2 computers.
When asked what he was doing there, he introduced himself as Hasnain and claimed to be the manager of M/s Masooma Builders, but his explanation was deemed unsatisfactory.
An investigation of his smartphone and WhatsApp discussion with a guy named Ali Raza revealed that they were having a conversation about a Hawala transaction. When his computers and mobile phones were examined, it was discovered that Hasnain had been engaged in the illicit business of Hawala in cooperation and active connivance with executives of M/S Swiss International Exchange Company and others.
Following that, a search of the company’s premises, as well as the disguised premises, was undertaken, and incriminating evidence was recovered in the presence of witnesses.
The confiscation included $18,000 in cash, Rs22.3 million in rupees, and other foreign currencies. Furthermore, sensitive documents were retrieved.
Pakistan’s anti-Hawala & anti terror-financing efforts
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has been vocal against corruption and money laundering that he claims the 2 political families of Nawaz Sharif & Zardari are indulged in.
Nawaz Sharif family was named in the Panama Papers Leak 2016 which became cannon fodder for Imran Khan’s successful campaign against corruption and money laundering, leading to the removal of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. In 2018, the Pakistani Supreme Court barred Nawaz from holding public office, and an accountability court sentenced him to ten years in prison.
Imran Khan came to power in 2018 with a promise of reforms to remove flaws in the financial system. So far, during the past 3 years, multiple anti money laundering & counter terror-financing bills have been passed.
In almost all of his Annual UN General Assembly speeches, he has been urging the United Nations for an international mechanism to prevent the flow of illicit financial flows from developing countries to developed ones.