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December 8, 2018

Crackdown on Hundi/Hawala: FIA arrests three men for money-laundering

National

December 8, 2018

KARACHI: In pursuance of directives issued by the Sindh director of the Federal Investigation Agency for a crackdown against Hundi and Hawala operators, two raids conducted on Friday by a team resulted in the arrests of three men allegedly involved in money-laundering.

The spokesman for the provincial chapter of the federal agency said action was taken after information was received that a man, Muhammad Shakeel Jaffrani, was involved in the illegal business of Hundi/Hawala. An FIA team raided his house after a tip-off that Jaffrani who had earlier gone underground was present at his house in Sindhi Muslim Cooperative Housing Society.

During the raid, a huge quantity of incriminating material was seized. The material included currency notes of Pakistani and foreign countries (172,500 Pakistani rupees, 190 Canadian dollars, 100 US dollars, 750 UAE dirham and Indian rupees), hundreds of telegraphic transfer receipts and money transfer receipts of millions of dollars, invoices of payment, ledger books, loose sheets of payment entries, cheque book of multiple accounts of different banks, loose cheques of different accounts and different banks, pay orders and deposit slips.

Jaffrani could not give any plausible reply to questions which were put to him on the spot; rather, he admitted that he was involved in the illegal transfer of money through the Hundi/ Hawala business. An FIR was lodged against him under sections 4 and 5 of the FER Act, 1947 punishable under section 23 of the FER Act, 1947.

FIA investigators suspect that a Hundi/Hawala racket would be unearthed in the aftermath of this arrest.

The FIA spokesman said Muhammad Noman Memon, who was also involved in the illegal business of Hundi/ Hawala, was taken into custody during a raid on a second floor shop at Jilani Centre, Boulton Market.

The raid, carried out under the supervision of Fahad Khawaja, FIA Karachi assistant director, led to the seizure of a huge quantity of incriminating material.

The material included currency notes of foreign and Pakistani currencies (worth Rs9 million), prize bonds worth of Rs1 million, an IPhone, a laptop having RMB transactions and foreign currency slips having millions of RMB, invoices of payments, ledger registers, cheque books of multiple accounts of different banks, loose cheques of different accounts and different banks, deposit slips, and Chinese bank account devices.

Momon could not give any plausible reply to questions which were put to him on the spot; rather, he admitted that he was involved in the illegal transfer of money.

On his information, another suspect, identified as Aftab Afridi, was arrested at the Central Mall behind the Gul Plaza in Saddar. Incriminating material was also found during the raid, and an FIR was lodged against Momon and Afridi.

Last month, the Federal government held a meeting with senior officials of the FIA in Islamabad, including its Anti- Corruption Wing, and directed them to lead a crackdown against people involved in the Hundi/Hawala crime.

The directions were issued through an order to all additional directors general of the FIA in Karachi and regional directors, including that of the Sindh-Karachi Zone.

As per the order issued on November-14, 2018, a meeting was convened by the prime minister on money-laundering and it was directed that the FIA should conduct an immediate crackdown throughout the country against all operators of Hundi/Hawala and a comprehensive progress report be submitted to him on November 24, 2018.

In this regard, it has been directed that all the field units be immediately sensitised regarding the instructions received from the PM office and compliance with them be ensured in letter and spirit.

It has been further directed that at least five raids be ensured by each zone on a daily basis.

Raiding parties have also been told to focus on seizing laptops, mobile phones and computers during raids so that further information/details of the illegal business/rackets involved in the flight of capital and siphoning off money out of Pakistan could be retrieved through forensic audits.

It has been noticed that raiding teams, instead of focusing on the real hawaladars, usually arrest their employees and finalise their investigations.

“Special instructions may please be issued to them to focus on the arrest of real owners of the business. The accused arrested should be thoroughly interrogated and their modus operandi for the outward transfer of money be determined so that future strategy to combat the menace could be devised. The matter may please be given high priority,” said the letter.

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