KARACHI: A food vendor in a low-income neighbourhood of the metropolis was beside himself with surprise when he discovered that an account in his name in a private bank contained more than two billion rupees, it emerged on Saturday.
The account was traced by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) during its ongoing probe into fake accounts used for money laundering.
However, Muhammad Abdul Qadir — the account holder — turned out to be a food vendor in Orangi Town selling falooda to make ends meet.
“During the course of its probe, the FIA found the account in a private bank with Rs2.5 billion,” said a source. “The FIA then approached the account holder, summoned and questioned him in detail on Sept 17,” the source added. The FIA interviewed him again on Sept 19.
It was found that Abdul Qadir was a falooda seller in the residential area of Orangi Town Sector 8-L who could not read English or or even sign. It was concluded that the account could have been used for illegal transfer of money, the source said.
Only last week, the Supreme Court-mandated Joint Investigation Team (JIT) — set up to probe into money laundering cases — revealed that 33 suspicious accounts were found during the course of inquiry. With the unearthing of 33 more fake accounts, the total number of suspicious accounts rose to 77, said FIA additional director general, Ahsan Sadiq, who was appointed as the JIT head by the apex court. The officials are not sure yet whether the recently-found suspicious bank account in Karachi would be added to the count.
Following the discovery, Abdul Qadir came under media limelight as dozens of DSNG vans were parked outside his 40-yard home. “I was called by FIA people who told me about my bank account which has Rs2.5bn,” he said. “They showed me the photocopy of my ID card which was used for opening the account. I told them that it was my ID card but I never opened an account in the bank. Then they showed me the English signature I had done for the account. I told them that I am an illiterate person and I can’t sign in English,” said the food vendor.
He recalled that he had once worked at a PCO [public call office] in Gulistan-i-Jauhar several years ago and they had asked for his ID card at the time of his appointment. He had quit the job to start his food stall in the area, he added.
Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2018