Karachi: Charge-sheet filed against forex scam suspects
KARACHI: The investigation officer submitted an interim charge–sheet against three detained foreign exchange dealers in a case of foreign exchange fraud to the court of district and sessions judge (south) on Tuesday. The Federal Investigation Agency had arrested Mohammad Javed Khanani and Abdul Munaf Kalia, directors of the Khanani and Kalia International, on the night of Nov 7 in Karachi and Lahore, and Hanif S. Kalia, the chairman of the Kalia group, was arrested in Clifton on Nov 28.
The suspects are facing charges of illegally transferring billions of dollars abroad.
According to the charge-sheet, a case was registered against the suspects on Nov 15 after initiating an inquiry on a complaint (118/08) lodged by the State Bank of Pakistan about illegal transfer of money abroad.
It said that besides two official websites, the firm had fraudulently created a website (www.clickpk.net) and database “Exchange plus” and “Foxpro” with criminal intentions without declaring it to the State Bank of Pakistan and used them for illegal transactions. The company had also installed huge computing machines and devices at its head office in Saima Trade Centre on I. I. Chundrigar Road, which enabled the company`s franchise offices set up across the country automatic access to the main system in order to facilitate such transactions.
The charge-sheet further said that the suspects had used the services of Al–Zarooni Exchange in the UAE, having Atif Aziz Polani and Jawed Qasim as the focal persons to assist all such dealings. Besides, the services of a number of exchange firms and agents in foreign countries were acquired that caused a loss of billions of dollars to the national exchanger. The suspects had sent billions of dollars from the country in connivance with other directors and partners of exchange companies and money changers, it said.
The SBP`s exchange policy department had issued a licence for six years (Dec 26, 2002 to Dec 25, 2008) to the firm, while 1,468,151 transactions were made from July 18, 2005 to Nov 6, 2008 through which foreign currency worth Rs103,849,300,144 was transferred abroad during the same period as the amount was not declared to the State Bank, it added.
The FIA, acting on the lead given by the arrested suspects, seized data from 13 computers, 2,643 backup DVDs and files of lockers from the system administrator of the company, Mustahab Alam, it said, adding that the firm had opened hundreds of thousands accounts in different banks across the country. Five of the accounts had so far been identified, including account title M. Javed at the PICPIC Commercial Bank`s market branch, account titles M. Iqbal, Asif, Fahim and Hanif at My Bank`s Cloth Market branch.
Mohammad Iqbal Kasbati, son of Jan Mohammad, Altaf S. Khanani, son of Abdul Sattar Khanani, Atif Aziz Polani, son of Aziz Polani, and Jawed Qasim were shown absconders in the charge-sheet.
The FIA has placed the names of 23 prosecution witnesses in the charge-sheet. They include Taj Islam, assistant director of the exchange policy department, State Bank of Pakistan; Mohammad Tariq of M/s Mint Printers; Mustahab Alam, system administrator of the Khanani and Kalia International; Haji Khan, assistant director of the FIA, and Khaliquzzaman, deputy director of the FIA.
The investigation officer had submitted in the court two copies of the charge-sheet, one under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act 1947, and the other under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance, 2007.
A case (76/08) was registered against the suspects under Sections 5/8, 22/23 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act 1947, read with Sections 7, 8 and 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance, 2007, and Sections 420, 467, 471, 477–A of the Pakistan Penal Code at the FIA`s crime circle branch in Karachi. Another case (FIR 32/08) was registered against them under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act 1947 at the FIA crime circle, Lahore. The suspects are in FIA custody on physical remand.
Meanwhile, the district and sessions judge (south) on Tuesday adjourned the hearing of bail applications of Javed Khanani and Abdul Munaf Kalia till Dec 6 as the FIA`s counsel Amir Raza Naqvi was busy in the Supreme Court.