KARACHI: Customs Special Court in Karachi dismisses Bail Over Solar Panel Money Laundering Scam in one case while grants hearing opportunity in the other case.

In a significant legal development, the Special Judge Customs Court in Karachi has denied bail to the accused Abdul Aziz. Proprietor of M/s Smart Impex’s was apprehended by PCA South Karachi in the solar panel scam. Aziz is under investigation for his alleged involvement in the solar panel scam involving over-invoicing and money laundering amounting to Rs 9 billion.

Through a discreet operation, customs authorities had successfully arrested Aziz who is member of the Quetta-based group of money launderers. Aziz was tactfully arrested by averting law & order situation in Quetta and was successfully brought to Karachi under remand with customs.

During investigation, Aziz confessed to being a mere puppet and frontman, receiving a paltry monthly salary of Rs. 30,000 In his confession, Aziz implicated his cousin, Amanullah, as the leader of the cartel comprising of three fraudulent companies including M/s Smart Impex,  M/s Ehsan Importer and Exporter, and M/s Asadullah Enterprises.

Initial investigation indicates that these three companies are interlinked to launder black money abroad Rs 9 billion on over invoices prices. FBR successfully proved its case and the bail application of accused Abdul Aziz has been dismissed by the Customs Court, while the accused has filed an appeal against the dismissal of bail application before the hon’able SHC.

The Federal Board of Revenue’s unit, PCA South, has detected the scam involving misuse of duty/tax-free imports. The scale of this alleged operation is substantial with Rs. 86 billion reportedly laundered, and Rs. 49 billion over-invoiced. FBR has lodged eight FIRs so far, illustrating the potential scale of criminal activity within the solar panel import sector.

The Prime accused Rab Nawaz and his wife, who are under investigation of laundering Rs. 73 billion via their two companies based in Peshawar,  await the verdict of the Special Customs Judge that is fixed for 12.12.2023. They managed two associates paper companies M/s Brightstar Business Solution Pvt Ltd and M/s Moonlight Trader (SMC) Pvt Ltd. located in Deans Centre Peshwar.

The main mastermind accused Rab Nawaz obtained conditional protective bail from the KPK High Court with directions from the HC to appear before the Special Judge Customs Court in Karachi on October 3, 2023, for bail confirmation. FBR was hopeful for arresting the accused by pleading before the Special Judge Customs to reject bail in view of gravity of the case. However, when the customs investigation staff and prosecutor appeared before the special judge customs court in Karachi on October 3, 2023 it was revealed that the customs judge had already granted interim bail to the accused on September 28, 2023. Surprisingly, the next hearing date was fixed for November 6, 2023, giving the accused directors more than a month of unrestricted movement to potentially manipulate records. Since then, hearing dates are being postponed.

One of the accused Directors and also the wife of accused Rab Nawaz confessed during the investigation that she and her husband Rab Nawaz used to live in China while her brother-in law Ahmed Nawaz operated the shady affairs of said company. Ahmed Nawaz, on the other hand has refused to accept any links with the said companies. In view of strong evidences on record, the customs court, has not yet confirmed interim bail but the accused are enjoying unrestricted movement to manipulate records w..e.f. 03.10.2023. The next date of hearing is fixed by the customs court for 12.12.2023. PCA South has also moved application before the special judge customs court Karachi to cancel interim bail of the accused Directors who are not cooperating during investigation. special teams are making efforts to apprehend the other absconding accused.

The spotlight now turns towards the main  players. The two alleged ringleaders, Rab Nawaz and his wife, accused of laundering Rs. 73 billion via companies based in Peshawar, and Amanullah, accused of laundering a mind-boggling Rs. 9 billion through Quetta-based concerns, await the special customs judge’s verdict. Customs authorities face challenges in cornering these elusive masterminds whose unrestricted movement is hampering the investigation in the mega scam of over-invoicing and money laundering. The court’s decision on granting bail, or otherwise, remains anxiously awaited.