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Wednesday July 17, 2024

13 suspects held as FIA busts money laundering racket

By Salis bin Perwaiz
January 27, 2022

KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Sindh, in a joint operation with a federal intelligence agency, has busted a racket of Hawal/Hundi operating through a known money changer, arrested 13 suspects and recovered foreign and local currencies worth tens of millions of rupees.

Those arrested were said to have been also involved in sending aid and remittances to their Pakistani networks at the behest of a foreign intelligence agency.

Talking to The News on Wednesday, FIA Director Sindh Amir Farooqi said a credible piece of information had been received through reliable sources that M/S Swiss International Exchange Company (Pvt) Limited situated in Jinnah Cottage Jamshed Quarter, MA Jinnah Road, Karachi, was running the illegal business of Hawala and Hundi without any authorisation of the State Bank of Pakistan.

The suspects were said to be involved in conducting transactions in and out of Pakistan without having banking channels and causing a huge loss to the government exchequer. They were also violating the provisions of sections 4/5/23 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act 1947; hence, an inquiry was initiated for further proceedings.

In order to apprehend the suspects, FIA Director Farooqi constituted a raiding party headed by officials of the FIA’s Commercial Banking Circle Karachi and others.

Accordingly, personnel of the CBC raided a property of M/S Swiss International Exchange Company (Pvt) Limited, and on the pointation of sources, a raid was conducted on the premises of the company, where cashier Nasir Hussain and branch manager Asif Raza along with other staff of the company were present.

After the CBC team members introduced themselves and explained the reason for the raid, the officials of the company allowed a search of the premises. During the search, one suspicious door attached to an adjacent room behind the exchange company’s main premises was discovered. In that room, a man was found using two computers. When asked what he had been doing there, he introduced himself as Hasnain and pretended to be manager of M/s Masooma Builders, but his reply was found unsatisfactory.

An examination of his cellphone and his WhatsApp chat with a person, Ali Raza, showed they were found having a conversation regarding a Hawala transaction. When his computers and two mobile phones were checked, it was found that Hasnain in collusion and active connivance o officials of M/S Swiss International Exchange Company and others had been indulging in the illegal business of Hundi and Hawala.

Thereafter, another search of the premises of the company as well as the camouflaged premises was conducted, and incriminating material was seized in the presence of witnesses.

The seizure included $18,000, Rs22.3 million and other foreign currencies. Moreover, highly sensitive and illegal documents were also taken from the possession of the suspect.