Lahore: Man accused of illegal Rs67b transfer freed
LAHORE: A man accused of illegally transferring more than Rs67 billion abroad has succeeded in getting himself free allegedly in connivance with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officials.
Syed Lakht-i-Hasnain, the chief executive of a defunct exchange company, who is said to have sent Rs67.89 billion via hundi/hawala, instead of regular banking channels and thereby damaging the national economy, was released because the FIA chose not to pursue his case.
The FIA, sources said, was even reluctant to pursue the matter, citing its unwillingness to appeal the banking court’s decision in superior courts.
Over the past two years, the FIA is said to have recovered Rs47.5 million from the accused. The amount was later distributed among 75 victims of fraud.
According to the FIA investigation, Lakht-i-Hasnain was not only involved in illegal transfer of money but was also involved in misappropriation of Rs760 million, including Rs560 million of Western Union, Rs150 million to 125 franchise companies and his company’s vendors. He also allegedly owes about Rs50 million of at least 50 other individuals.
Data on the company’s main computer server, seized by the FIA, showed that the company made transactions of Rs67.89 billion between November 2006 and May 2009. The company also made attempts to tamper with the records.
Offices of the now defunct Zarco Exchange were raided on the orders of the State Bank and the federal government because forensic reports stated that the company was illegally transferring huge amounts of money.
Inward remittances of the company amounted to much less than the money moved out.
The closure of the company’s business is said to delayed public payments.
The FIA registered a case against the firm on February 21, 2009 and arrested seven accused, including Syed Lakht-i-Hasnain.
Challan against Lakht-i-Hasnain and others was submitted on January 25 last year.
Earlier, the Lahore High Court had taken suo motu action on complaints that the company was involved in defrauding a number of people. FIA personnel had raided and sealed more than 300 outlets of the company across the country on money laundering allegations.
Interestingly, a Supreme Court bench, headed by the apex court’s chief, rejected Lakht-i-Hasnain’s bail plea.
Over the past year, FIA produced no witness in the case.
Criticising the quality of investigation carried out by the FIA team, one of the victims, Salahuddin, who was deprived of Rs4.9 million after the company went out of business, told The Express Tribune that Lakht-i-Hasnain had been freed because of poor FIA prosecution.
He said that he would soon file an appeal against the decision in the Lahore High Court.
FIA officials have denied the allegations and insisted that there was no flaw in their investigation and prosecution.