Pakistan Government widens dollar scam investigation

  • Khanani remanded in FIA’s custody, Kalia to be produced in court today
    * Govt mulls Interpol help to arrest suspects outside Pakistan

    By Faraz Khan and Tahir Niaz

    KARACHI/LAHORE/ ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR: The government widened investigations into the alleged smuggling of billions of dollars out of Pakistan, as the Federal Investigations Agency (FIA) questioned top officials of key moneychanger firm Khanani and Kalia International.

    A court in Lahore remanded Javed Khanani in the FIA’s physical custody for one day and Munaf Kalia will be produced in court today (Monday).

    The sources said investigators had found important data from the firm’s computers in its sealed II Chundrigar Road office after Kalia made new disclosures on Sunday. They also seized important documents from his DHA residence.

    A TV channel said the FIA had also arrested Altaf Khanani, the third director of Khanani and Kalia, from Karachi. It said the agency also raided an office of the company in Islamabad, and record showed illegal transfers of up to Rs 36.86 billion.

    Sources said Kalia would likely be handed over to the Lahore wing of the FIA. An FIA official said a team from Lahore was due to arrive in Karachi.

    In Peshawar, the FIA began gathering data on illegal foreign currency exchange said sources familiar with the investigations. But no arrests were made. Most of Peshawar’s currency dealers did not operate on Sunday and some went underground. There are about 400 currency dealers in the city – of which only 32 are registered – and about 700 Afghans involved in Hundi and Hawala. Any arrests would be made after the probe was complete, the sources said.

    Interpol: Sources in Islamabad said the government was considering seeking help from the Interpol to arrest suspects not currently in Pakistan.

    The Interior Ministry asked the FIA on Sunday to submit a preliminary report on the smuggling of foreign currency, the sources said. They said the State Bank had been conducting a probe into the reasons for the sharp rise in the exchange rate of dollar, and had recently asked the government to crack down on the companies involved in illegal transfer of foreign exchange outside Pakistan. The Interior Ministry had set up an FIA cell to deal with the issue, they added.

  • http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008\11\10\story_10-11-2008_pg1_1

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