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March 20, 2019

FIA arrests two hawala suspects in Saddar raid


March 20, 2019

During their crackdown in Karachi and interior Sindh, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has arrested different suspects involved in the illegal business of hawala/hundi, The News learnt on Tuesday.

The spokesman for the FIA Sindh said that in the light of a written complaint of the deputy director, State Bank of Pakistan Exchange Policy Department, Karachi regarding the crackdown on illegal foreign exchange operators, a piece of information was received. Hence, an enquiry of the FIA State Bank Circle (SBC), Karachi was registered.

Since the offence is cognisable and non-bailable, a raiding party proceeded to the premises of Paris Gold on Dr Daud Pota Road in Saddar after making the necessary entries at the FIA SBC police station, and found Zonaib, son of Muhammad Anwar, and Shehroz, son of Muhammad Feroz, there.

After due identification and introduction, a search was conducted in the presence of witnesses that resulted in the recovery of incriminating articles, including two mobile phones with correspondence and images of Chinese yuan and telex transfer slips in WhatsApp messages.

A file was also found that contained ledger sheets with entries of hawala/hundi and illegal sale and purchase of foreign currency in the names of Farooq, alias Ismail, (five pages), Mohsin Manzoor (four pages), Arsalan Khepia (four pages) and Rahil Khepia (two pages).

Ten deposit/TT slips of foreign banks were found that showed payments in different currencies, including 77,500 Saudi riyals, $1,130 and 500 pounds, amounting to Rs2,009,500. Also found were 99 prize bonds of Rs100 denomination each, 98 prize bonds of Rs200 denomination each and four prize bonds of Rs7,500 denomination each as well as a hard disk.

During the initial questioning Zonaib and Shehroz could not provided a plausible cause for the articles found in the raid and voluntarily admitted that they had been involved in hawala/hundi without the State Bank’s permission.

This was also confirmed through the spot analysis of the electronic equipment, including mobile phones and laptop, and the TT slips and swift messages on WhatsApp. The incriminating items were taken into the FIA’s possession in the presence of witnesses. The raiding party, the seized articles and the suspects returned to the police station, where Zonaib and Shehroz admitted to being involved in the illegal business of hawala/hundi.

Regarding their modus operandi, Zonaib said he illegally purchased foreign currencies, especially Saudi riyals and US dollars, from one Farid, whose office is located on II Chundrigar Road.

Thereafter they sent the foreign currencies through Khepias, namely Muhammad Arsalan Qureshi, Mustafa Sikander, Yaser Bacha, Imran Ibrahim, Mohsin Manzoor, Noman, Akhtar Hussain, Rashida, Kashif, Zeeshan, Danish, Asif Bhai, Shakeel Attari, Ameen, Imran, Ashraf, Arif, Shan, Saqib and Bilal Habib and carriers to one Farooq in Dubai as per the State Bank’s prescribed limit of $10,000 or equivalent riyals.

Then Farooq deposited yuans in the bank accounts of his clients in exchange of the said dollars or riyals. Zonaib said he had some clients in Saddar’s mobile market who needed yuans for purchasing mobile phones from China and had accounts at different Chinese banks. In this connection, Zonaib sold yuans to the said clients and deposited them in their Chinese bank accounts through Farooq.

Shehroz said his responsibility was to contact Farooq on WhatsApp for the illegal export of foreign currencies and for the deposit of yuans at different client accounts in China. Shehroz corresponded with Farooq and managed all the accounts because Zonaib is illiterate.

They said the names and numbers of all their clients were are in the contact lists of their phones. The roles of the exchange companies and other individuals are yet to be ascertained. The FIA Sindh spokesman said they have also busted a hawala/hundi network operating out of Hyderabad and arrested Syed Khalid Ali and his son Syed Saad Ali.

Saad Ali said during the initial questioning that his father was running a business of foreign exchange as well as unauthorised sale of prize bonds at the shop acquired through rent by his father. The incriminating items were taken into the FIA’s possession in the presence of witnesses and an FIR was registered.