US authorities said on Friday that Altaf Khanani, a well-known money-changer, was arrested for involvement in laundering funds for designated terrorist organizations and drug trafficking organizations. . The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in a statement said: “The Khanani Money Laundering Organization facilitates illicit money movement between Pakistan and many other countries, and is responsible for laundering billions of dollars in organised crime proceeds annually. Altaf Khanani, the head of the Khanani MLO and Al Zarooni Exchange have been involved in the movement of funds for the Taliban, and Altaf Khanani is known to have had relationships with Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Dawood Ibrahim, Al Qaeda, and Jaish-e-Mohammed.” The US would be investigating into the matter and look for accomplices of Altaf Khanani. And it is likely seek UK’s cooperation vis-à-vis MQM to find out if there was liaison with the organization.
It could be a coincidence that the Senate of Pakistan passed Anti-Money Laundering Act 2015, the day Altaf Khanani was arrested in United States. Anyhow, there is every possibility that the American investigators would seek FIA’s support, which had arrested him in 2009. US authorities had found how he and his company used to transfer money of Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other terror networks from one country to other including Afghanistan. In the past, there have also been reports of Khanani links with certain prominent politicians. The arrest of some Al Qaeda’s suspects linked with finance had provided details to investigators about the recovery of money and its transaction. Khanani’s arrest would lead to the arrest of more people linked with his network, and some outlawed Jihadi networks, MQM and other proxies of the RAW may face fresh investigations and drilling.
In 2013, London Metropolitan Police said that an investigation was being carried out against Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain on charges of money laundering and provocation to torture, BBC Urdu had reported. In July 2013, London Police wrote a response to BBC Urdu Service verifying the raids on Altaf Hussain’s residence and office. They also confirmed that huge sums of money were seized from his home and office. Earlier in June, as part of their investigation into the Imran Farooq murder case, Scotland Yard had raided Altaf Hussain’s house in London. The search operation continued for over 55 hours. Later in July, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police in London had told a national daily that a significant amount of money was seized in the raid from the house of the MQM chief.
Another spokesperson said that if a money laundering case was established, then it would be treated as a financial case, separate from the murder case of Dr Imran Farooq. For over 27 months, investigation is being carried out against Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain by London Metropolitan Police on charges of money laundering. Police had seized 400,000 sterling pounds from Altaf Hussain’s residence and office. According to the BBC report, two senior leaders of the MQM had told the UK authorities they received funds from Indian government. UK authorities investigating the MQM for alleged money laundering also found a list of weapons in an MQM property. British authorities also held formal recorded interviews with senior MQM officials who told them the party was receiving Indian funding.
In April 2015, Senior Police Officer Rao Anwar gave details of how the two men went to India via Thailand to be trained by the Indian intelligence agency RAW. Post-BBC report, the British government has a legal as well as moral responsibility to expedite the cases against Altaf Hussain. Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) leader, Tariq Mir had made startling revelations regarding money laundering and Indian funding for MQM. During investigations by UK authorities, MQM leaders Tariq Mir disclosed that the MQM had been funded from Indian spy agency RAW since 2010. He had told police officials in 2012 that his first meeting with RAW agents took place in Rome where ‘fund issue’ was discussed. He also accepted that middle-level leadership of MQM Karachi had been trained in India by RAW.
On 29th October 2013, an additional district and sessions court in Pakistan had acquitted the Khanani and Kalia (K&K) directors of charges of illegal foreign currency transactions worth billions of rupees. The FIA had booked Hanif S. Kalia, Abdul Munaf Kalia, Javed Khanani, Altaf Khanani, Atif Aziz Polani, Abdul Aziz Polani, Javed Qasim, Amir Zakaria, Iqbal Kasbati after the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) accused them of illegal transactions and running parallel banking in 2008. According to the FIA, the defendants indulged in huge money transfers in collusion with different forex companies, moneychangers and businessmen. The legal action was taken during the previous PPP government after the flight of capital put pressure on the country’s foreign exchange reserve. The K&K directors were charged also with fraudulently creating a website clik.pk.net to carry out monetary transfers from and to Pakistan.
The prosecution had alleged that the defendants did not sell or declare the money to the SBP, which was required under the law, while an equivalent amount payable against the remittances was distributed in Pakistan to recipients, depriving the national exchequer of foreign exchange and remittances to the tune of billions of rupees. The K&K directors were also charged with manipulating foreign exchange in favour of foreign companies as Hawala transfers at the behest of businessmen to generate the under-invoiced amount required to be paid illegally to foreign exporters. Their counsel, Shaukat H. Zubedi and Hummal Zubedi, submitted that the banking court had already acquitted their clients of similar charges and they could not be retried. The sessions court had acquitted the directors and ordered their release, if not involved in any other case. Their acquittal speaks volumes about flaws in prosecution and judicial process in Pakistan.