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December 15, 2017

FIA official faces action for ‘irregular’ raid


December 15, 2017

LAHORE: An assistant director (AD) of the Federal Investigation Agency has been charge-sheeted for conducting an "irregular" raid with "mala fide" on the office of a businessman accused of running a gambling business in in the city and involvement in illegal money-exchange business, The News has learnt.

AD Ahsan had raided a place in Gulberg area of Lahore on July 3, 2017, and seized laptops, mobile phones, registers, etc, from the place for forensic analysis. Meanwhile, the accused lodged a complaint with the FIA headquarters (HQs), accusing the AD of demanding money from him for facilitating him. The same day (July 18, 2017), the case was transferred to FIA Punjab, Lahore Zone, for further probe, and an inquiry into the complaint was also ordered against the AD.

The inquiry officer (IO) stated in his report that irregularities during the raid expose AD's “ulterior motives.” He also observed that Ahsan and the businessman were well known to each other. According to IO, the AD the charge of illegal gratification couldn’t be established against the AD, noting that he is already facing an assets inquiry at FIA HQs.

Furthermore, the IO wrote that the AD neither informed the CTW Lahore for taking assistance, nor recorded his entry in any local police station. Following the report, thecompetent authority ordered departmental action that began with charge-sheeting the AD that could entail dismissal from service.

According to the charge-sheet, the AD didn’t seek prior approval from the competent authority (FIA DG) which was mandatory under Standing Order No 46/2016 regarding initiating an action on a source report. He was further charged that the matter pertained to jurisdiction of the FIA Punjab, Lahore Zone, but he carried out the action being SHO CTW, Islamabad. The AD was also charged for releasing an employee of the accused businessman. The AD was also charged that he neither informed CTW Lahore for taking assistance nor recorded his entry in any local police station, and he also did not take any official from Cyber Crime Wing (NR3C) to save the volatile data in the RAM of digital equipment while conducting the raid.

The charge-sheet also mentioned that a case, FIR No 55/2014 at FIA Lahore, already registered against the businessman U/S 4/8/23 under FERA 1947 and as per record no terror financing was proved.

On the hand, after the forensic analysis of the equipment seized by the AD from the office of the accused businessman, the FIA Lahore registered an FIR under Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA), 1947 against the accused for his involvement in sending money abroad illegally. Surprisingly, the FIA Lahore couldn’t arrest the accused businessman again in 2017 as it couldn’t do the same in 2014. However, charges about involvement in betting were proved and the FIA Lahore referred the case to local police as such matters falls in their domain.

The FIA Lahore inquiry, however, couldn’t prove businessman’s involvement in terror financing under the garb of his illegal business of hundi-hawala as mentioned by the AD in his source report before conducting the raid.

Talking to The News, the AD said he had conducted the raid on merit and with the approval of competent authority. He claimed that the source report was prepared on the orders of his superior who also advised him not to take any assistance from CTW Lahore or any local police due to sensitivity of the matter.

To a question, he said he freed businessman's employee after recording his statement as he wasn’t arrested by him at that time. The superior officer, who approved the raid according to the AD, refused to comment when contacted by this correspondent.

When contacted, the accused businessman said he was never involved in any illegal act of money exchange. He said the FIA had registered a fake case against him in the past, but he would again succeed in the court.

Following questions were asked from the FIA HQs: if the AD was a corrupt official, why he was posted to an important place as the SHO CTW Islamabad since January 2017 and until this raid; if the AD acted without HQ's approval, why action couldn’t be taken against his superior officer who approved his source report and allowed him to conduct the raid; if the raid was conducted for ulterior motives, than why FIA Lahore registered an FIR against the accused on AD’s report. Similarly, the HQ was also asked about FIA Act 1974 which empowers FIA officials to conduct raids anywhere in the country.

The FIA HQs, responding to the queries, said the AD has been charge-sheeted on the findings of an enquiry report. The response said if there were any discrepancies found regarding the charges framed in the enquiry, strict action would be taken against the officials concerned, adding the charge-sheet could be reviewed. The HQs confirmed that Standing Order No 46/2016 had no legal ground as a court has suspended the same sometimes back.

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