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LAHORE: In a major breakthrough in the ongoing investigation against smuggling of US dollars to Afghanistan, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) claimed that it has traced those individuals who recently bought the greenback from foreign exchange companies amounting to $63 million.

An official source familiar with the development told Business Recorder that the Corporate Crime Circle (CCC) of the FIA Lahore, after identifying those people who systematically played with the State Bank of Pakistan's (SBP) protocols and bought nearly $63 million from the open market to smuggle them to Afghanistan, has started sending notices to them.

"As per the initial investigation (into the matter), more than $100 million have so far been transferred to 500 people only by taking undue advantage of the system," the source added and claimed that as per the SBP's protocols, online transaction of greenback below the amount of $35,000 does not require due-diligence.

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About modus operandi of these people, the source added that the suspects used to make multiple (online) transactions below the mark of 35,000 dollars in a single day to hoard maximum greenbacks for smuggling purposes. He said the agency has also succeeded in getting documentary evidence that suggested involvement of some foreign exchange companies in this organised cheating and money laundering.

According to a list of suspects, a copy of which is available with Business Recorder, the FIA has identified and named some 96 prominent figures of real estate developers, money exchange dealers, educational institutes and online market places, who recently bought the US dollars in bulk for "hoarding purposes".

In this context, the source said, the agency has started sending call-up notices to these people directing them to appear before the investigators.

"FIA corporate crime circle is conducting an inquiry against various individuals and exchange companies for USD cash transaction conducted in a "structured manner" (keeping each transaction either below $35,000 or $50,000 to evade statutory due-diligence protocols) which is leading to USD hoarding, money laundering and illegal FCT outward flight/smuggling," reads a call-up notice sent to a suspect, Malik Kaleem.

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As per the notice, the FIA said that in the light of the evidence available with the investigators, Kaleem purchased $1,364,000 from various foreign exchange companies through "structured manner" and therefore he was required to appear before the investigators at the FIA's Temple Road office on Oct 11 (today).

The FIA directed the suspect to bring all the supporting documentary evidence including lists of all cash US dollar purchase transactions conducted by him or anyone on his behalf from any currency exchange dealer or open market since 1-1-2019. The agency also demanded documents from Malik showing his source of PKR funds for each USD transaction.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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