Eight held in crackdown against smuggling of dollars to Afghanistan

Published October 12, 2021
The FIA has so far detained several persons involved in the illegal business of foreign currency and recovered $300,000, 300,000 Euro, etc, and Rs200 million cash from their custody. — Reuters/File
The FIA has so far detained several persons involved in the illegal business of foreign currency and recovered $300,000, 300,000 Euro, etc, and Rs200 million cash from their custody. — Reuters/File

KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency has intensified its ongoing crackdown against hoarding and smuggling of dollars as it conducted multiple raids and arrested eight men associated with a foreign exchange firm for illegally sending the greenback to Afghanistan.

“The FIA’s commercial banking circle carried out raids on the offices of Best Way Exchange Company in Saddar and Gulshan-i-Iqbal and arrested eight staff members who were involved in hawala / hundi,” said a spokesperson for the FIA.

The official said that mobile phones, laptops and other documents being used for the hawala/hundi purpose were seized from their custody.

FIA official says one person purchased $245,000 on CNICs of 29 persons

The FIA claimed to have seized Rs7.6 million and $36,394 and other foreign currencies worth Rs3m from their custody.

“They were illegally providing US dollars to residents of Balochistan without any receipt or entry,” he added.

Two of the eight held suspects originally hailed from Quetta and they were allegedly involved in transfer of dollars to Afghanistan.

“By taking advantage of the prevailing political situation in Afghanistan, the suspects were involved in illegal transfer of dollars, which undermined the value of Pakistani currency,” said the FIA official.

The held suspects were identified as the company’s director Mohammed Yaseen, manager Mohammed Adnan and other staff members.

FIA-Karachi Director Amir Farooqi told Dawn that certain elements established a network in which foreign exchange companies were also involved to take undue advantage of the situation in Afghanistan.

He pointed out that it was mandatory for the exchange firms to obtain the computerised national identity cards and pictures of buyers but it was being manipulated. Citing an example, he said that one single person purchased $245,000 from exchange companies in Karachi by submitting the CNICs of 29 persons. The said person paid Rs1,000 to each person in return of the copy of their CNICs.

He said the dollar was being taken to Quetta from Karachi to transfer the same in Afghanistan to earn profits.

He said the role of exchange companies was being monitored following the directives of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to each exchange firm to take biometric verification of a person in case of buying $500 or more.

Earlier this month, the FIA had launched a countrywide crackdown against illegal currency business, hoarding and smuggling after intelligence reports suggested that money was being sold illegally and parked in fictitious bank accounts causing artificial dollar appreciation.

The FIA has said that the agency was also collaborating with the SBP, the Financial Monitoring Unit as well as other stakeholders for detecting any foul play conducted by registered forex companies and apprehending culprits.

The FIA has so far detained several persons involved in illegal business of foreign currency and recovered $300,000, 300,000 Euro, etc, and Rs200 million cash from their custody.

Because of the crackdown against foreign exchange companies mainly in the metropolis during the last two weeks, the value of dollar has been decreased from Rs174 to Rs171 in the open market, claimed the FIA-Karachi director.

However, in the inter-bank market the greenback was closed at Rs170.74 on Monday, which is still on the higher side.

The chairman of the Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan, Malik Bostan, had said that he had assured FIA’s director general Sanaullah Abbasi and Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin recently of his full cooperation for the crackdown against hoarding and smuggling of foreign currencies in the interest of the country.

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2021

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