FIA Initiates Probe Against ‘Buyer’ of State Gifts

FIA Initiates Probe Against ‘Buyer’ of State Gifts

According to official sources, the Federal Investigation Agency has not dismissed a criminal case against Umar Farooq Zahoor, who has been wanted since 2009–2010 by Pakistan, Turkey, Norway, and Switzerland for a variety of financial and other offences. 

Buyer of Imran Khan’s Watch

Just a day before, Zahoor’s name made news when he claimed in an interview to have paid more than $2 million for a pricey Graff wristwatch that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had given to former Prime Minister Imran Khan. 

However, Mr. Khan refuted the claim and pledged to fight the putative purchaser and a Pakistani media organisation in UK and UAE courts for a “fabricated” tale. 

When the PML-N-led coalition assumed office in April, the FIA apparently lost interest in the case it had been vigorously pursuing against Zahoor because of the fugitive’s claimed connections to those in authority. However, a source from the FIA in Islamabad informed that the case against fugitive Zahoor was still pending.

Ex-FIA Officials Facilitating Accused

In order to discuss Zahoor’s repatriation due to his involvement in international financial crimes with the UAE government, the director general of the FIA created a JIT of four people in January. The organisation also questioned Bashir Memon and Saud Mirza, two former FIA directors, for allegedly “facilitating” him. 

The FIA was to pursue efforts with the UAE government regarding the extradition of Zahoor and co-suspect Mohammad Zubair, as well as the repatriation of two minors, in coordination with the director of Interpol’s National Central Bureau (NCB), the joint interior secretary, and the Middle East director at the Foreign Ministry. 

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In the course of the investigation, it came to light from the Interpol NCB Islamabad’s records that the FIA’s top officer had withdrawn Interpol yellow notices issued for the search and repatriation of abducted minors Zainab Umar and Zuneirah Umar (illegally removed from mother Khushbakht Mirza’s legal custody and transported abroad on fake IDs/travel documents). 

FIA’s Probe

In spite of the fact that accused Zahoor was on Interpol’s red warrant watch list and should have been investigated, he was instead “illegally helped by FIA in 2018–19” in travelling freely to and from Pakistan. This information came to light during the FIA Lahore investigation.

The FIA also looked into whether he had transferred any of the $12 million in Swiss criminal proceeds and 89 million Norwegian kroner (from the Nordea Bank Fraud in Oslo in 2010) to Pakistan. 

The FIA is also looking into how Zahoor, an international wanted fugitive for whom a Red Notice was issued in 2015, was able to visit Pakistan at least 32 times between 2017 and 2019 without incident.

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