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FIA freezes account of ice-cream vendor

FIA freezes account of ice-cream vendor

KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has frozen the bank account of Abdul Qadir, the Falooda (ice-cream) vendor who was found to have a sum of Rs2.25 billion (bn) in his account.

Reportedly, the FIA initiated a probe against the transfer of the huge amount of money in the ice-cream seller’s account. The FIA also directed five officials of a private bank to appear before the agency on Monday (today).

According to media reports, two separate investigations will be launched in order to look into the matter. The judicial joint investigation team (JIT) would look into the opening of vendor’s account whereas the FIA team will launch another investigation to ascertain how such a huge sum of money ended up in the vendor’s account. Reportedly, opinion of legal experts was sought by the FIA in order to determine who could be sued for money laundering in this situation.

Meanwhile, Abdul Qadir who resides in Orangi Town, maintained that he had no prior information regarding the account and the hefty sums of money in it. According to Abdul Qadir who runs a Falooda stall in his neighborhood, he came to know about the existence of the bank account in his name only when he received a letter from the FIA. He said that his brother had told him about a FIA letter which directed him to approach the agency office.

He said that he then visited the FIA office where he was surprised to know that he had Rs2.25 bn in his bank account. He said that the FIA officials during the interrogation process asked him how he had managed to earn such a hefty sum of money. “I told them I am a vendor. How can I possibly earn such a huge sum of money,” said Abdul Qadir. He added that he invited the FIA officials to come with him and see for themselves how poor he was.

He further said that the investigators also showed him his signature but he said that the signatures were in English. “I sign in Urdu but the signature the FIA officials showed me was in English,” he said. Abdul Qadir recalled that he visited the bank once when he had to buy a house in Surjani Town.

Meanwhile, a police team has been deployed outside the vendor’s house.

The Supreme Court had formed a joint investigation team to probe the money laundering case involving Rs35 bn funneled through fake bank accounts at three local banks in the first week of September. The court had been hearing a suo motu case regarding a 2015 inquiry into suspicious transactions when 29 ‘benami’ accounts were opened at different banks.

Those involved in the case include Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, former Summit Bank president Hussain Lawai, Omni Group of Companies chairperson Khawaja Anwar Majeed and his son, among others. Lawai, Anwar Majeed and his son are already in FIA’s custody while the FIA had already summoned the Zardari and his sister during the investigations.