The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Sunday arrested three money changers in Lahore in the ongoing crackdown against dollar hoarding and recovered hundreds of dollars while lodging cases against them.
FIA’s Punjab Zone-I Lahore Director Mohammad Waqar Abbasi had issued the directives for the operation against money laundering, dollar hoarding, hundi/hawala (illegal money transfer) and the “illegal speculation” regarding the de-valuing of the Pakistani rupee, said an interior ministry press release.
According to the interior ministry, the money exchangers had hoarded the dollars to make the rupee weaker in the market by hoarding them until their demand increased, thus artificially increasing their price.
FIA had constituted six teams for the crackdown and those teams raided all money exchanges in Lahore simultaneously and checked their records. During one such raid, dollars were recovered from DD Exchange Company Lahore, the interior ministry said, adding that the currency seized amounted to Rs40 million.
FIA took three persons into custody and registered cases against them. “Investigation is in progress and startling revelations are expected from them especially against hoarders of dollars,” the interior ministry said.
On Friday, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry announced that the government had decided to launch a “full-fledged” operation against the hoarding of US dollars and speculative currency trade in the country.
Fawad said that the government had directed the FIA to launch the operation in coordination with the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Ministry of Finance.
The announcement came hours after Finance Minister Asad Umar ruled out a further devaluation of the rupee, which has lost about 25 per cent of its value over the past year, urging people to invest in the stock market and not waste money buying dollars.
Talking to a group of journalists in Islamabad, the minister said that speculations in the local money market had sparked the dollar value against rupee and the situation was worsened by the fake news being spread on social media.
Umar said there would be no further devaluation of the rupee as the SBP had categorically made it clear that the supply and demand of dollar against the rupee had reached its equilibrium level.
He reiterated said that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had made no demands to set the exchange rate or to devalue the rupee.