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Money laundering: FIA decides to arrest many MQM, PSP leaders

Top Story

May 9, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has decided to arrest prominent leaders in connection with a money laundering case against the London-based founder of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

In a fresh development in the money laundering case involving the MQM, the FIA has decided to arrest party leaders who have not cooperated with the agency, sources privy to the matter said, reported Geo News. A meeting, chaired by the FIA director general and attended by UK-based Pakistani businessman Sarfraz Merchant and international law expert Toby Cadman, was held on Tuesday where it was decided to take legal action against MQM and PSP leaders unwilling to cooperate with the FIA in the probe.

Merchant played a key role in the opening of the money laundering investigation against the MQM in the UK. Cadman is a London-based lawyer who has been hired to represent Pakistan in three MQM-related cases in the UK — the money laundering, hate speech, and Imran Farooq murder cases.

Cadman has previously defended former president Pervez Musharraf in the treason case and provided his services directly to the Panama Papers JIT. FIA Director for Counter-Terrorism Mazhar-ul-Haq Kakakhel was also part of the meeting. According to the sources, the FIA sent notices to Farooq Sattar, Arshad Vohra, Sohail Mansoor, Rehan Mansoor, Rauf Siddiqui and Kaif-ul-Wara four months ago, but none of the leaders has yet replied to the notices. It was also decided in the meeting to expand the money laundering probe to other countries. A money laundering case was lodged against the MQM founder and the party's charity organisation Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation (KKF) in Karachi in 2017. The case was later transferred to the FIA's Counter-Terrorism Wing, Islamabad.

MQM, following an inflammatory speech by the party founder in August 2016, divided into two factions, with Pakistan-based members distancing themselves from their London-based leadership. Later, some members defected to other political parties as well, including the Mustafa Kamal-led PSP.

Merchant was co-accused in the money laundering case along with the MQM founder and was arrested at the end of 2013, after the police found that dozens of payments were made from his account into the MQM’s UK account for Altaf Hussain and Mohammad Anwar.

Merchant later explained that he gave donation to the MQM in early December 2012 and then the MQM leader himself “requested for a loan in 2013”. However, Merchant said he had been misled as the donation payment that he had made turned out to be illegal, because the MQM was not a registered political party or charity in the UK and therefore, it could not claim donations.

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