The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Sunday linked the sealing of a currency market in Peshawar a day earlier with measures taken to prevent money laundering and comply with the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
In June 2018, the FATF — an international terrorism financing watchdog — had found “strategic deficiencies” in Pakistan’s ability to prevent terror financing and money laundering. The watchdog had subsequently demoted Pakistan to its grey list, putting the country just one step away from its dreaded blacklist, which brings with it international sanctions and economic repercussions among other things.
On Saturday, the FIA conducted a covert operation targeting a currency market in Peshawar’s Chowk Yadgar area, from where it claimed funds were laundered all over the world.
FIA Director Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Zone Mirvais Niaz held a press conference at Malik Saad Shaheed Police Lines today to share the details of the operation, which he said was conducted to dismantle the illegal hundi and hawala businesses.
“Forty-two men have been arrested and more than 50 shops have been sealed for their involvement in running this parallel banking system,” said the FIA official, adding that a total of Rs26.8 million were confiscated.
“This money is impossible to trace and could very well have been used for terror financing,” he added.
The FIA director asserted that the agency’s efforts were in line with the government’s initiative to take Pakistan out of the FATF grey list and moreover, to prevent it from being black-listed.
He further said that the Peshawar operation was just the initial phase of larger efforts which would soon be extended all across the province.