KARACHI: Launching a crackdown against hawala/hundi and any unauthorised exchange transactions, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has carried out a raid in Saddar, arrested two men and seized a huge quantity of money including foreign currency and gold, officials and sources said on Saturday.

FIA Karachi director Munir Ahmed Shaikh told Dawn on Saturday that in compliance with directions to carry out a campaign against hundi/hawala/illegal remittance activities by the FIA director general, a raid was conducted at an office located on the second floor of Sara Centre, Raja Ghazanfar Ali Road in Saddar.

Two persons, identified as Zain and Adnan, were detained, he said, adding that they were allegedly engaged in sending “illegal remittance abroad under the cover of sale of gold”.

The agency claims to have seized over Rs69m, foreign currency and 1.5kg gold

Talking about their modus operandi, he added that the detained persons received payments in exchange accounts of Dubai in UAE dirham.

He said that the same was then sold to Pakistani hawala/hundi agents but they were provided the amount in the form of dirham in Dubai.

The equivalent amount of Pakistani rupees was obtained from the hawala agents in Pakistan.

FIA empowered by amendments in Fera

The official believed that this monetary transaction was illegal and unauthorised and was in contravention to the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Regulatory Act (Fera) of the country.

During the raid, the FIA team recovered/seized a mobile phone containing WhatsApp messages of buying UAE dirham from people in Pakistan, and subsequently selling the amount whereby delivery was given in Dubai in exchange for Pakistani rupees obtained in Pakistan.

The raiding party also recovered Rs69.6 million, 5,000 Omani riyal, 7,000 UAE dirham, US$100 and 1.5 kilograms of gold.

FIA sources said that the raid against hawala/hundi agents in Saddar was part of a countrywide crackdown after amendments in Fera introduced by the present government in February this year.

The said amendments not only enhanced punishment against such illegal money transactions but it also empowered the FIA to take cognisance itself directly without the intervention of the State Bank of Pakistan.

The FIA sources said that prior to these amendments in the law concerned, a complaint of the SBP in writing was mandatory for the FIA to initiate legal action against such agents.

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2020