FIA chief wants quality investigation, timely convictions in money-laundering cases to meet FATF demands

Published July 7, 2021
This photo shows the newly-appointed director general of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Sanaullah Abbasi. — APP
This photo shows the newly-appointed director general of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Sanaullah Abbasi. — APP

KARACHI: The newly-appointed director general of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Sanaullah Abbasi has urged officials to carry out quality investigation and obtain “timely and quality conviction” in the cases of money laundering and terror financing to fulfil requirements of Financial Action Task Force, according to officials.

As the FIA focused on anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terror financing to meet demands of FATF, courts in Balochistan awarded convictions in three major money-laundering cases in the last week of June and 50 similar cases had been registered in Karachi only in which 47 accused had been arrested with recovery of over Rs2 billion cash, said the officials on Tuesday.

These and other issues were deliberated upon during recent visit of DG FIA to the FIA zonal office Sindh.

Additional DG South Sultan Ali Khowaja briefed Abbasi on the working of FIA South Zone which included Sindh Zone-I, II and Balochistan.

FIA Sindh Zone-I (Karachi) director Amir Farooqi told Dawn that the participants in the briefing exchanged views about some pertinent issues regarding money laundering investigations.

He said that in cases involving money laundering, the FIA needed record of property and bank data from other countries under mutual legal assistance (MLA), which was obligatory under FATF. It was suggested that mechanism needed to be devised for sharing the said data under MLA, he said.

Besides, Mr Farooqi said, the federal government should appoint special prosecutors to defend cases registered under MLA as envisaged in the act itself.

Mr Khowaja said the FIA chief directed to carry out investigation on merit and obtain “timely and quality conviction” in the cases so that FATF requirements could be fulfilled.

About performance of FIA Balochistan, Mr Khowaja said that courts in Quetta had given judgements in three money laundering cases on June 23, 28, and 30, respectively, convicting accused and imposing of huge fines.

He pointed out that in Sindh Zone-I (Karachi only), FIA had so far registered 50 cases of money laundering and recovered Rs2,731 million cash. A total of 47 accused had been arrested and out of them 18 had been charge-sheeted while 32 cases were pending investigation, he said.

The major money laundering cases pertained to sugar satta scandal, SAI (Shaheen Airlines), TDAP, EOBI, KPT, GPO scams and others, said officials.

Meanwhile, the meeting was informed that a total of 2,292 enquiries were under process and 358 cases were under investigation in South Zone (Sindh and Balochistan).

The DG FIA issued instructions to complete the investigations on merit. He was briefed on cases under trial in different courts and convictions obtained in the cases involving money laundering, hundi, hawala and corrupt practices in public-sector organisations.

Apart from recovering over Rs2bn cash in money laundering cases, property worth Rs 2,128m was also seized by South Zone, said officials.

Furthermore, in cases of hundi and hawala cash worth Rs1,149m was seized. “Number of accused who have been awarded punishments is 3,828 over the last three years,” said Khowaja, adding that the convicted persons had been awarded imprisonment ranging from two years to 28 years in these cases.

The DG appreciated the working of FIA South Zone and urged officials to further improve quality of investigations.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2021

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