Senate Panel Directs FIA to Probe Rs. 70 Billion Money Laundering Via Solar Panel Imports

The Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue on Wednesday directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to probe the money laundering/over-invoicing scam involving solar panel imports worth a staggering Rs. 69.5 billion.

The FIA, acting as a third-party investigator, will trace those individuals and entities involved in the elaborate scam, which has sent shockwaves throughout the financial sector.

Committee Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla argued that such a colossal operation could not have taken place without the complicity of commercial banks and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), urging further investigation into their involvement.

Highlighting the gravity of the situation, committee member Senator Kamil Ali Agha noted that this money laundering scandal has occurred while the country remains engaged with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), raising concerns about Pakistan’s compliance with international anti-money laundering standards.

Customs officials were reprimanded for their failure to prevent the scam, and the committee directed the FBR to continue its investigation into the matter.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) backed action against banks involved in the scam, highlighting the severity of the situation. Tensions ran high during the meeting, with SBP and FBR officials engaging in a heated exchange.

The SBP Deputy Governor emphasized that those involved in the scandal should be held accountable in accordance with the relevant laws, emphasizing the need for swift action. He added that the banks had flagged 37 suspicious transactions and issued a report.

In an effort to uncover the full extent of the scandal, Member Customs said that records from 21 commercial banks regarding the import of solar panels will be checked.

The FBR lamented that if the banks flagged the issue earlier, the scam could have been detected and prevented. In total, seven companies have been implicated in money laundering of approximately Rs. 70 billion, the Member Customs added.

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