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April 21, 2019

Banks told to give FIA details of MQM leaders’ accounts


April 21, 2019

Granting a request made by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), an anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Saturday directed seven private banks to provide details of 27 accounts that are reportedly being operated by current and former Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leaders.

The FIA had moved two applications before the ATC-II judge on Friday seeking the bank records of MQM founder Altaf Hussain, former federal minister Babar Ghauri, former MNA Khawaja Sohail Mansoor, his brother Khawaja Rehan Mansoor, former Karachi deputy mayor Arshad Vohra and former senator Ahmed Ali, and the permission to arrest them for interrogation.

The suspects have been accused of facilitating money laundering through the MQM’s charity wing Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation (KKF) to benefit the party’s founder living in self-imposed exile in London.

The judge directed the heads of the seven banks, including Standard Chartered, Allied Bank, Bank Alfalah, Habib Metropolitan Bank and MCB Bank, to provide the record of 27 accounts that were requested by the FIA.

The ATC adjourned the hearing on the other application seeking to arrest the suspects, their relatives and others for interrogation until April 29.

The court also adjourned the hearing on the application moved by former senator Ali seeking confirmation of his interim pre-arrest bail. Speaking of Ali’s absence in the hearing, the judge observed that the court can only rule on this matter in the suspect’s presence.

According to the FIA’s prosecutor, they had found that the KKF had five bank accounts and only three of them were audited. He added that around Rs500 million had been allegedly transferred from an account of the KKF to an account of the MQM from 2013 onwards.

He said that 14 other accounts — seven owned by Ali and as many by his company — were also found that were allegedly used to convert the local currency into 2.056 million pounds in three-and-a-half years.

He added that 1.4 million pounds were also converted from the local currency and deposited into four bank accounts: three owned by former MNA Sohail and one by his company.

The prosecutor said that the former MNA’s brother Rehan had got Rs250 million converted into different foreign currencies from his bank account, while his wife also got Rs360 million converted into foreign currencies from her bank account.

He said that the converted money was apparently laundered to the UK through the MQM leaders visiting there. He added that the KKF’s bank records and those of the suspects were needed so they could be checked to confirm the allegations and to see if they had been used in any terror financing.

The case was registered on the complaint of a businessman Sarfaraz Merchant under sections 121, 122, 123-A, 406, 471, 477-A and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code 1860, read with sections 3 and 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010 and sections 11(h), 11(i) and 11(j) of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.

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