KARACHI: The investigation into the massive solar panel scam turned violent as PCA investigators faced threats followed by attempted physical assault within the limits of City Court Karachi.  M/s Ermi Fresh, one of the 12 fraudster importers involved in Rs 16 billion money laundering scam, filed a complaint with the Additional Session Judge South Karachi which led to attempted physical assault on the PCA officers within the court premises. 

The fiasco began unfolding when the PCA South Karachi lodged an FIR against a cartel of 12 importers, who engaged in illicit financial flows involving the illegal  clearance of solar panels. The plot thickened when one importer, Farhan Khalid of M/s Ermi Fresh, implicated in this sinister nexus, sought pre-arrest bail. The importer arrived at the Customs Court in a vehicle bearing government’s green GP number plate, raising serious suspicion. The PCA investigation team, present at the court premises, captured video evidence and photographed the suspicious government vehicle. Upon questioning by the IO, the GP registration number was attributed to the Sindh High Court, which was found to be false as the GP number is designated for Federal Government use – specifically, the Customs department. The usage of fake GP number vehicle to transport an individual involved in ongoing FIR investigations was tantamount to impersonation. The proprietor of M/s Ermi Fresh also recorded video statement on spot claiming that agent Waseem Tanoli (actual name Muhammad Pervaiz) orchestrated the fraudulent clearances on his company’s name without his authorization.

The advocate representing the proprietor of M/s Ermi Fresh exerted significant pressure on the PCA team, followed by threats, to erase the photographs and video recordings, however, the PCA team stood their ground, unyielding to the threats. In retaliation, M/s Ermi Fresh, alongside advocate, lodged a spurious complaint against the PCA’s Investigating Officer Syed Ghazanfar and the Assistant Director, Mr Sultan Aurangzaib, in the court of the additional session judge South Karachi.

During the hearing at City Court Karachi,  the courtroom transformed into a battleground as 50-60 advocates, in an orchestrated maneuver, attempted to attack on the PCA Investigating Team. Their target  was to seize the IO’s cellphone and obliterate the incriminating evidence of GP number plate vehicle and video statement. Volatile saturation subsided in the court with the intervention of the custom’s prosecutor and the additional session judge. The PCA team, showing remarkable composure, held their ground within the courtroom and protected the crucial evidence, until the volatile situation dissipated and the advocates dispersed.

Undeterred by the physical assault, the PCA South moved ahead with the investigation to connect the dots and reveal how government vehicle GP 6369 ties in with M/s Ermi Fresh and the wider solar panel cartel. PCA South submitted a comprehensive report to the FBR regarding the outrageous incident highlighting the necessity for heightened security protocols. Request was also made for additional logistical support and personnel to ensure the safety of officials embroiled in legal confrontations.

Director PCA Sheeraz Ahmed, reassured by the leadership of DG PCA Chaudhary Zulfiqar Ali, stated that their teams will not be intimidated by these tactics. Their resolve to combat such fraudulent activities remains steadfast, and they are prepared to confront any obstacles that may arise in the pursuit of protecting the economic interests of the country. Under the robust guidance, the PCA team is determined to continue their work earnestly, undistracted by the potential threats posed by those involved in the scam.

The firm stance by the PCA sends a clear message that fraudsters will not be tolerated, and those responsible will be held accountable for their actions. The resolve of PCA aligns with the policy guidelines of FBR which continue to show zero tolerance towards money launderers. With special teams mobilized and the investigations accelerating, the FBR is determined to bring all culprits to justice. Member Customs FBR, Dr. Farid Iqbal Qureshi, and his team are unwavering in their commitment to protecting the country’s foreign exchange reserves and ensuring the integrity of the financial system. FBR’s efforts are aimed at eradicating fraudulent activities, safeguarding the nation’s economic well-being, and sending a strong message to potential wrongdoers.