In April, the Court of Civil Judge and Judicial Magistrate-I Karachi harshly admonished the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Cyber Crime Wing for filing “inadequate” money laundering allegations against Waqar Zaka and directed the agency to conduct a fair investigation into the case.
The court determined that no claims of money laundering can be ascribed to the defendants, according to an official court decision obtained by ProPakistani. Furthermore, it appears that no FIR regarding any predicate offence has been filed or is now ongoing against the accused Waqar Zaka.
In January 2022, an investigation officer from the FIA Cyber Crime Wing submitted an interim report on money laundering accusations against Wakar Zaka, according to the preliminary minutes of the court order.
According to the case’s summarised facts, the report was received through the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), after which an investigation was launched. The central charge against Zaka is that he was involved in virtual asset/cryptocurrency transactions.
According to the FIA investigation, Zaka’s records were obtained from involved banks, where it was discovered that a large sum of money of Rs. 86.1 million was credited to the accused’s local bank accounts via international remittances (IBFT).
During the investigation, the federal watchdog report used Zaka’s blogs and videos to show that he was actively dealing in cryptocurrencies, which is not a legal tender according to the SBP’s circular.
It was also claimed that the accused was summoned to give a statement in which he was unable to justify his massive transactions, “while it appeared that he is involved in money laundering, fraudulently obtained the amount from people, and used it for personal activities by gaining trust to gain illegal demand.
Furthermore, according to the FIA study, Zaka was active in spreading false propaganda against state institutions and posted inflammatory films on social media accounts claiming to be his. As a result, the State filed an FIR against him.
Court Findings and Verdict
The court highlighted in its conclusions that the matter was being pursued by a single individual who, as a one-man army, is the complainant, investigation officer, and witness in the case. “Amazingly, no other person is named as a witness in the case.
Concededly, there appears to be no private complainant in this case who may have asserted any commission of [the] offence on the record. Apparently, this FIR was filed in the wake of an STR “Suspicious Transaction Report” dated: 28.08.2020, which was generated by the FMU “Financial Monitoring Unit” of the State Bank of Pakistan and sent to the Federal Investigation Agency for conducting [An] investigation into the alleged money laundering, after which the investigation was launched and this FIR was filed under the carious panel provisions.”
The complaint has enumerated various criminal sections involving various laws with distinct characteristics. The court stated that offences involving banks, in general, require special attention from the Commercial Banking Circle or State Bank Circle, whereas penal offences under the AMLA 2010 would only be attracted if a predicate offence had been committed.
After noting this, the court concluded that no allegations of money laundering may be attributed to the accused in the absence of a predicate offence.
It further shows that prior to this FIR, no FIR including any predicate offence had been filed or was pending for trial against the accused Waqar Zaka.
The court noted that no private individual has yet come forward to complain about hate speech, electronic forgery, electronic fraud, breaching a natural person’s dignity and privacy, or any other type of cheating or breach of trust.
It also expressed surprise at the investigation officer’s actions, noting that he only gathered credit and debit histories of the accused’s transactions and had yet to collect sufficient evidence of any violations of multiple sections of the FERA, 1947, including restrictions on dealing in foreign exchange.
In conclusion, the court viewed the instant report as a result of an insufficient inquiry by way of the interim report, as a result of which the investigation officer was directed to investigate the matter further fairly and impartially in light of the case record.