ISLAMABAD: Having already lost the money laundering case it filed against Abdul Munaf Kalia and Javaid Khanani in a district court in Karachi, due to lack of evidence, the Federal Investigation Agency now appears set to lose the second one too — thanks to the alleged negligence of the investigation officers who fielded an incomplete challan in district court Abbottabad. Mr Kalia and Mr Khanani, the directors of Khanani and Kalia International (KKI), one of the largest foreign exchange companies in the country, were arrested by FIA in 2008 on the charges of money laundering and illegal transfer of money.
They were accused of transferring foreign currency from Pakistan and running illegal ‘Hawala or Hundi business’. Cases were registered against them in Lahore, Karachi and Abbottabad.
Over two years later, not only have they been acquitted from the case in Karachi, it is likely that they might be let off scot-free from Abbottabad also.
This is because the final challan, which was filed by the Additional Director (AD) before the Abbottabad court on Sept 22 last year, failed to mention the names of Munaf Kalia and Javaid Khanani.
Because of this technical error, the two are no longer accused of smuggling billions of dollars out of the country from the Pak-Afghan exit route.
That the exclusion is not being seen as a ‘mistake’ is evident from the fact that the FIA head office has ordered an inquiry against AD Tariq Pervaiz for not filing challans against the two. In fact, he is being accused of doing it deliberately.
The misconduct was discovered accidentally almost seven months after the challans were filed in Abbottabad court, when the former DG FIA, Waseem Ahmed, ordered a reinvestigation into the money laundering cases against Kalia and Khanani. He ordered this reinvestigation in the first week of March, after he was grilled about the issue at the Senate Standing Committee on Interior.
The report of the reinvestigation said that Tariq Pervaiz, the investigation officer in FIA Crime Circle Abbottabad, was granted permission to file challan against six accused in the money laundering case but only four of them were named when it was filed in the court.
The challan does not mention either Kalia or Khanani despite the fact that their names were included in the Confidential Final Report (CFR).
The explanation letter has also been issued to DD Tariq Pervaiz says, “You sought permission for challan in the court, which was accorded by the then Director FIA, KPK on 23-4-2010 against; Tariq Aziz.., Wajid Mehmood…, Mansoor Ahmed…, Raja Tanveer Ahmed…, Abdul Munaf Kalia and Javaid Khanani.”
The allegations against Pervaiz are serious to say the least. The letter issued by the Director FIA KPK Dr Muhammad Suleman Khan says, “From the perusal of challan submitted to the court under your signature it has been found that you intentionally did not include the name of two main accused namely Abdul Munaf Kalia and Javaid Khanani in the request of Challan.”
This however is not the only issue which raises questions about the competency of those investigating this case. There has been an inordinate delay in the case’s progress.
In the Abbottabad case alone, an FIA official told Dawn that the challans were filed on September 22, 2010 even though the permission to submit them was issued in April that year; in other words the challans were delayed for five months.
“The filing of challan with four names could not have escaped the knowledge of Director, FIA KPK, Inam Ghani,” the official said, adding that the entire case had been damaged.
However, when asked, Tariq Pervaiz claimed that the names were left out “mistakenly” because of the pressure of work.
The case in Abbottabad was registered after an FIA team in August 2008, raided Bismillah Enterprises, a franchise of KKI located at GT Road Haripur, seizing computers, foreign currency and other records including receipts. It also arrested Tariq Aziz and Wajid Aziz, who were running the franchise despite the fact that the State Bank had cancelled the business licenses of all KKI franchises.
Following the raid, the report filed by Investigation Officer Saleh Muhammad nominated Khanani, Kalia, Tariq Aziz and Wajid Aziz for money laundering in KPK.
Talking to Dawn Saleh Muhammad said that KKI had one online account registered with the State Bank which recorded the transactions through this account.
“However, investigation revealed that they had 47 accounts under fake names in various branches of commercial banks,” he said, adding that “These fake accounts were being used for transactions related to Hundi, Hawala and money laundering.”
During the final phase of inquiry in May 2009, a senior official of the Agency told Dawn, IO Saleh Muhammad was transferred to FIA headquarters in Islamabad and the case was handed over to Tariq Pervez, who was then working as Assistant Director FIA, Peshawar Circle.
After he filed the challan, Pervaiz, was given a shoulder-promotion and made Acting Deputy Director FIA immigration by Inam Ghani, the director of the FIA.