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Only in Pakistan: Grade 16 officer found in possession of Rs 300 million

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News Analysis |

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has seized cash and prize bonds worth Rs300 million from the house of a former grade-16 government officer. The raid reveals the problems associated with the unregulated money market.

NAB official raided the residence of Khawaja Waseem, a renowned money changer and brother of a Tehsildar in provincial Punjab government, in a private housing society, EME on Lahore’s Mohlanwal road.

The news was broken yesterday by all media channels but the identity of the accused was not revealed. The officials of NAB recovered Rs 100 million in local currency, prize bonds worth Rs 170 million and Rs 30 million in foreign currency of 11 countries.

The central bank issued a detailed set of instructions to all the money exchange companies, instructing them to help the bank keep a strict vigilance over currency movements.

The accused, as found by the evidence, own several properties registered in his name.  The NAB director General has ordered an investigation against the suspect for owning assets beyond means. Whether the aforementioned case will be that sensational or not in the courts, is yet to be seen.

However, it highlights the problems associated with the money market of Pakistan which is not yet regulated. The market is lucrative as it is used by exporters and importers. Money exchange by importers and exporters during business has to take place promptly; as the banking option is both lengthy and expensive, money changers are a favored destination.

Read more: Why is Salman Shahbaz afraid of NAB?

The most famous of all cases related to the money exchange business is that of Khanani and Kalia. Javed Khanani and Munaf Kalia were arrested by the FIA in a dramatic raid in November 2008 when a complaint lodged against one of their franchises in Gujranwala led to the discovery of a parallel money transfer system being operated by their company — KKI — for purposes of transferring money out of the country through illegal hundi/hawala channels.

The officials of NAB recovered Rs 100 million in local currency, prize bonds worth Rs 170 million and Rs 30 million in foreign currency of 11 countries.

Their arrest sparked much commentary that their company was largely responsible for the massive flight of capital that took place from Pakistan in those days, putting serious pressure on the exchange rate and prompting an emergency appeal from the government to the International Monetary Fund.

Currently placed on the FATF’S ‘grey list’, Pakistan has been scrambling in recent months to avoid being added to a list of countries deemed non-compliant with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regulations by the FATF, a measure that officials here fear could further hurt its economy.

Read more: Privilege motion against DG NAB: What lies behind opposition’s rants?

In July, The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) undertook stringent measures to tighten currency movement within the country amid depreciation of the national currency following the grey-listing of Pakistan by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The central bank issued a detailed set of instructions to all the money exchange companies, instructing them to help the bank keep a strict vigilance over currency movements.

It is believed that NAB has blown the story into media to divert attention from DG NAB Lahore, Shahzad Saleem’, who is under heat for appearing at news shows of 5 news channels and is alleged to have a fake degree.


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