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Prosecutor in money laundering case against MQM chief, others replaced, court told

Updated February 16, 2019

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The FIA had booked Altaf Hussain in October 2017 — a year after the British investigators had dropped the same probe against him because of “insufficient evidence”. — File
The FIA had booked Altaf Hussain in October 2017 — a year after the British investigators had dropped the same probe against him because of “insufficient evidence”. — File

KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency informed an antiterrorism court on Friday that the federal government had changed the special public prosecutor in an alleged money laundering and terror financing case registered against Muttahida Qaumi Movement founder Altaf Hussain and others.

The MQM chief along with other party leaders, including former federal minister Babar Ghauri, former senator Ahmed Ali, Karachi’s Deputy Mayor Arshad Vohra, Khawaja Sohail Mansoor and Khawaja Rehan have been booked in a case pertaining to alleged money laundering.

On Friday, when the matter came up before the ATC-II judge, the FIA investigating officer moved an application submitting that the federal government had replaced the former special public prosecutor in the case.

He added that the new prosecutor was appearing before an antiterrorism court in Rawalpindi, where a similar money laundering case against the same set of suspects was fixed for hearing.

Therefore, he requested the judge to adjourn the matter to enable the new prosecutor to appear on the next date and plead the case.

Sources told Dawn that the prosecutor, who had been entrusted with the investigation of the present case, was also engaged in a case pertaining to the high-profile assassination of a political figure.

On a complaint of a UK-based businessman, Sarfaraz Merchant, a case was registered under Sections 121 (waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against Pakistan), 122 (collecting arms, etc, with intention of waging war against Pakistan), 123-A (condemnation of the creation of the state, and advocacy of abolition of its sovereignty), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document), 477-A (fraudulent cancellation, destruction, etc, of will, authority to adopt, or valuable security), and 109 (abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Sections 3 and 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2010 as well as Sections 11(H), 11(I) and 11(J) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

Allowing the application, the judge adjourned hearing till next date.

Meanwhile, the judge further restrained the FIA officials from arresting former senator Ahmed Ali in the case since the defence counsel informed that his client was fully cooperating with investigators in the case.

The court has already issued non-bailable warrants for the arrest of three other suspects.

The FIA had booked Altaf Hussain in October 2017 — a year after the British investigators had dropped the same probe against him because of “insufficient evidence”.

On the complaint of Sarfaraz Merchant, a case was registered against the London-based MQM supremo in Pakistan.

In a progress report submitted before the court on the last date, the FIA counterterrorism wing had disclosed that 69 accounts of the MQM, Altaf Hussain and others had been detected abroad and the record of the same had been requisitioned through the Foreign Office. “The reply is still awaited,” it added.

The report stated that during an investigation it transpired that around Rs1.32 billion was collected from people through extortion and ransom during 2013-14-15 and deposited into the bank accounts of the KKF, the MQM’s welfare wing.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2019