PESHAWAR: In a determined effort to curb illegal forex trading and the smuggling of US dollars, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) conducted a series of raids on multiple shops situated in Chowk Yadgar, the largest currency market in the province.
More than 45 shops operating in what FIA Deputy Director Afzal Khan Niazi referred to as the “hub of illegal currency business” in Peshawar were shuttered during the operation.
“No one can deal in foreign currency without obtaining permission from the authorities,” Mr. Niazi emphasized.
This crackdown on illegal forex trading was initiated by the FIA’s Commercial Banking Circle, with a team comprising police personnel and other law enforcement agencies accompanying them.
Mr. Niazi clarified that the currency shops in the provincial capital that were operating without obtaining licenses from the State Bank of Pakistan were targeted and subsequently closed.
Over the past 20 days, the FIA has conducted more than 27 raids, leading to the arrest of 28 individuals engaged in hundi-hawala business. Additionally, a substantial sum of Rs102.27 million in cash was confiscated from these individuals.
“This is a significant [currency] market, open exclusively to licensed operators. Those without proper legal documentation cannot engage in this business,” Mr. Niazi emphasized.
Mr. Niazi also confirmed that the FIA’s efforts to combat currency smugglers, hundi-hawala dealers, and other illegal forex traders would persist, with all culprits being pursued and dealt with in accordance with the law.
Officials reported that on December 12, 2022, the FIA’s Commercial Banking Circle had already sealed four plazas in the Chowk Yadgar area due to their involvement in illegal currency-related activities. These plazas had reportedly been used for hundi-hawala trade and currency smuggling, prompting the FIA to conduct raids in collaboration with an intelligence agency.
In a separate development, the FIA’s Anti-Corruption Circle recently apprehended five employees of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) on charges of facilitating individuals in obtaining “forged” computerized national identity cards (CNICs).
The accused are alleged to have assisted 59 people in acquiring these fraudulent identity cards. Their arrest followed the rejection of their pre-arrest bail applications by Special Judge (Anti-Corruption and Immigration) Rajab Ali Khan. Investigations into the NADRA employees involved are ongoing.
Meanwhile, the Collectorate of Customs in Dera Ismail Khan reported the seizure of smuggled goods worth Rs389 million in the Darazinda area of the district. Customs officials discovered three trucks and five containers loaded with smuggled items such as tires, yeast, cloth, welding electrodes, black tea, dry yeast, glassware, and plasticware.
The seized goods had an estimated value of Rs389 million, while the combined worth of the vehicles and containers was approximately Rs130 million. The operation was carried out in close coordination with local law enforcement agencies, and the confiscated items were subsequently transferred to the anti-smuggling office of the Collectorate of Customs in Dera Ismail Khan.
This seizure represents one of the largest recoveries made by the Pakistan Customs in recent years, both in terms of value and quantity.
The FIA and other law enforcement agencies remain committed to tackling various forms of illegal activities, emphasizing the importance of adhering to the law and obtaining proper permits for all financial transactions and business activities.