Major Money Laundering Investigation Underway in Lahore Involving $10 Million

Major Money Laundering Investigation Underway in Lahore Involving $10 Million

*Lahore, July 4, 2024* — The Federal Investigation Agency’s Anti-Money Laundering Cell (FIA AMLC) in Lahore has launched an extensive investigation into an alleged money laundering operation worth USD $10 million. The inquiry, designated as Enquiry No. 222/23, focuses on potential violations of multiple sections of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act 1947, specifically Sections 4, 5, 6, 8, and 23.

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*Background of the Case*

The investigation was prompted by a formal complaint lodged through the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC, which subsequently routed the complaint via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Interior. The FIA AMLC Lahore is now tasked with examining the evidence surrounding the illegal transfer of USD $997,565.50 from Pakistan to the UAE and the USA.

The complaint outlines a complex scheme involving AHG Flavours, a Pakistani company, which allegedly facilitated the illegal transfer by disguising it as overdue payments for ice cream imports. This maneuver aimed to circumvent the State Bank of Pakistan’s regulations, which prohibit cross-border payments for imported goods more than six months after the import date.

*Detailed Allegations and Evidence*

The complaint asserts that AHG Flavours handed over PKR 155,772,197 (equivalent to USD $997,565.50) to Interlink Corporation in Lahore through a combination of cheque and cash payments. The specific details are as follows:

1. *Cheques*: Three cheques totaling PKR 98 million were issued from AHG Flavours’ account at Bank Al Habib (Acct No 0981 008167019), with cheque numbers 10374734, 10374745, and 10378445.
2. *Cash*: An additional PKR 57.77 million was provided in cash.

The complaint further details how Interlink Corporation, acting as a front for AHG Flavours, transferred the equivalent amount to its UAE-based subsidiary, Interlink Trading FZC. The transfer methods allegedly included illegal hawala/hundi channels and misuse of the State Bank’s Export-Import Form (EIF) authorization intended for other importers.

Once in Dubai, Interlink Trading FZC consolidated the funds in its bank account at RAK Bank (Acct No 8372664597902). Subsequently, USD $997,565.50 was transferred to Baskin Robbins’ bank accounts in Dubai and New York through a series of five transactions designed to avoid banking scrutiny in both the UAE and the USA.

To further conceal the illicit nature of these funds, the transactions were later declared as over-payments or payments made in error. This allowed Baskin Robbins to return the money to Irfan Mustafa’s bank accounts in Dubai and Switzerland.

*Call for Thorough Investigation*

The complainant has expressed concerns about interference from senior officers within the AMLC Lahore, allegedly influenced by the accused. To ensure a comprehensive investigation, the complainant has requested the following:

– Examination of AHG Flavours’ account ledgers.
– Review of transaction records from Bank Al Habib (Acct No 0981 008167019).
– Investigation into Interlink Corporation and its bank accounts at Allied Bank.
– Cross-referencing of State Bank EIF records.
– Scrutiny of importers whose EIF forms were allegedly used illegally.
– Investigation into the activities of hawala/hundi agents in Lahore.

The complainant has urged the Honorable Secretary to direct the FIA AMLC Lahore to conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation, ensuring that all evidence is duly considered.

*Implications and Importance*

This ongoing investigation highlights the challenges of combating sophisticated financial crimes in Pakistan. The case underscores the importance of robust regulatory frameworks and international cooperation in tracking and prosecuting illicit financial flows. As the investigation unfolds, it will be crucial to ensure transparency and accountability within the FIA to restore confidence in the country’s efforts to combat money laundering.

The FIA AMLC Lahore’s actions in this case will set a significant precedent for future investigations and the enforcement of financial regulations in Pakistan.

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