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FIA Investigating Alleged Smuggling of $63 Million to Afghanistan

The Federal Investigation Agency is investigating 100 people suspected to be involved in hoarding or smuggling over $63 million to Afghanistan during the last 45 days, a national daily reported.

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According to the report, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Lahore served notices to nearly 100 individuals, “asking them to appear before it from October 15 for their alleged involvement in buying US dollars in a structured manner keeping each transaction either below $35,000 or $50,000 to evade statutory due diligence protocols, which is leading to dollar-hoarding, money laundering, and illegal outward flight and smuggling”.

Following reports of dollar smuggling and hoarding, the Director of the FIA Lahore, Mohammad Rizwan, started the investigation and collected data from exchange companies in the city. The agency will ask the suspects why they had bought such a large sum of money totaling $63 million in the previous 45 days.

“It is suspected they have bought US dollars either to hoard or smuggle to Afghanistan,” the official said, and added that “action will be taken against those involved in money laundering and hoarding of US dollars,” after the investigation. Additionally, the buyers had collaborated with exchange companies to avoid regulatory scrutiny.

He explained, “Under the law, if an individual buys $35,000 (from an exchange company) the transaction has to be reported to State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and made through a cheque. In case of purchase of over $50,000, the buyer has to seek permission from the SBP.”

The SBP has also mandated biometric verification for the making of transactions of over $500 in the open market.

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The Pakistani Rupee has depreciated by nearly 11 percent since its peak in May. Analysts believe that the smuggling of dollars to Afghanistan has been a major factor driving the Rupee’s free-fall after the US froze the country’s dollar supply in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover.

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