FIA arrests its officials for extortion

Shakeel Anjum
Friday, May 26, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has apprehended several of its officials involved in extorting illegal funds from a Chinese mobile company during the company's registration process. After filing an FIR under Sections 34/161/162/163 and 109 PPC R/W 5(2) PCA 1947, two suspects, including an FIA officer, were taken into custody, and an investigation has been initiated.

FIA Director General Mohsin Hassan Butt confirmed the report Thursday and said that a group comprising agency officials and private individuals engaging in unlawful activities has been exposed through a sting operation. He said the FIA is a reputable investigation agency with professional and ethical officials, and no one will be permitted to misuse authority to blackmail others.

A Chinese national, Long Chuhui, had lodged a written complaint with the director of the Islamabad zone, saying that he received a message from Rizwan Tufail, who identified himself as an FIA employee. Tufail attempted to blackmail Chuhui, and when he refused to comply with the demands, Tufail threatened him. Subsequently, Chuhui's bank account was frozen under Section 5(5) of the Federal Investigation Agency Act, 1974, as stated in the FIR.

Chuhui received a notice from the FIA based on the application submitted by the same blackmailer. Chuhui expressed his desire to establish a lawful company in Pakistan, contributing to employment opportunities for hundreds of Pakistanis and paying taxes. However, if such individuals resort to blackmail, it becomes impossible for anyone to conduct business.

Chuhui requested the removal of caution from account No. 2001177012 of Fast Mobile Samba Bank DHA-III, Lahore, and urged strict action against Mr. Rizwan Tufail in the interest of justice. The DG FIA ordered appropriate legal action against all individuals involved in the blackmailing of the Chinese company.

In his initial statement, Chuhui revealed that Rizwan Tufail, posing as an FIA Cyber Crime official, and AD Salman of FIA Cyber Crime, Rawalpindi, had been extorting him. They demanded a bribe of Rs 50 million to unfreeze his company's accounts and close its inquiries.Chuhui had already paid Rs. 5 million to AD Salman and was now being asked for the next installment of Rs. 10.5 million. Consequently, Chuhui decided to set up a trap raid. With permission from the competent authority, a raid team was formed under the supervision of Malik Sajid Mehmood, AD FIA ACC. The raiding team, accompanied by Magistrate Awaid Irshad Bhatti, conducted the raid on May 16, 2023. During the raid, Chuhui was directed to visit the office of the raiding magistrate, while Malik Sajid Mehmood and other team members arrived there. Raiding Magistrate Awaid Irshad Bhatti signed his initials "AIB" and the date "22/05/23" on 100 currency notes of Rs. 5,000 denomination each (serial numbers from EH5132101 to EH5132200) and handed them to Chuhui to deliver to the alleged FIA Cyber Crime Rawalpindi officials or their representatives. Subsequently, the raiding team, along with the raiding magistrate and Chuhui, went to the Lucky Links Mobile Shop in I-9 Markaz, Islamabad.

The team members were strategically positioned in different areas of the shop. Chuhui entered the shop, where Rizwan Tufail and another individual (later identified as Hafiz Anwarul Haq, s/o Mazharul Haq) joined him. Malik Sajid Mehmood, along with the raiding magistrate, also entered the shop and sat nearby Chuhui and accused Rizwan Tufail, who represented AD Salman of FIA Cyber Crime Rawalpindi. Rizwan Tufail demanded the bribe amount for unfreezing Chuhui's company bank account on behalf of AD Salman, with the raiding magistrate and Malik Sajid Mehmood as witnesses.

Chuhui handed over an amount of Rs. 10.5 million, part of the pre-determined Rs. 45 million for unfreezing and closing the inquiry, in the form of 100 packs of 100 x 100 denomination currency notes to Rizwan Tufail. Rizwan Tufail then gave the money to Hafiz Anwarul Haq for counting. After completing the transaction, the raiding magistrate, along with Malik Sajid Mehmood, introduced themselves to Rizwan Tufail and Hafiz Anwarul Haq, recovered the amount, including the marked bills, and prepared a seizure memo at the shop in the presence of witnesses. The raiding magistrate recorded the statements of both accused individuals, wherein they revealed that the collected amount was intended for AD Muhammad Salman Khan of FIA Cyber Crime, Rawalpindi.They further disclosed that Rs. 13 million had already been delivered to AD Salman in this matter, as well as other inquiries against Chinese companies. They admitted to conniving and extorting money on behalf of AD Salman.

Upon receiving this information, Malik Sajid Mehmood immediately requested Mr. Jair Nasrani, Deputy Director FIA ACC Islamabad, to deploy another FIA team to apprehend AD Muhammad Salman Khan and seize relevant records from the FIA Cyber Crime office in Rawalpindi. Subsequently, a team from FIA ACC Islamabad, consisting of Inspector Fida Hussain, Inspector Gohar Shah, and SI Shahbazul Hassan, raided the FIA Cyber Crime Rawalpindi office, detained AD Muhammad Salman Khan, and seized the pertinent inquiry file through a seizure memo. Raiding Magistrate Awaid Irshad Bhatti prepared a raid report and, along with the statements, certified copies of the raid report, seizure memo, and the seized amount of Rs. 10.5 million, submitted them to the relevant authorities.

Consequently, the accused individuals—AD Muhammad Salman Khan, Rizwan Tufail, and Anwarul Haq—were found involved in the commission of offences under sections 34, 161, 162, 163, and 109 PPC r/w 5 (2) PCA 1947. Raja Rizwan Abbasi, the counsel for the Chinese company, described the offence as "extortion" by a prestigious national investigation agency against foreign investors and urged the addition of Section 388 PPC to the FIR.