In a case involving a cryptocurrency scam, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has submitted a final charge sheet against television broadcaster and social media activist Waqar Zaka.
On Thursday, as the case was scheduled to be heard by Judicial Magistrate (East) Mukesh Kumar, Attorney Salah Uddin Panhwar submitted a power of attorney on behalf of Zaka, who is alleged to be evading justice, as well as a request asking the court to excuse his client’s absence until he returned from abroad. The magistrate took the application and power of attorney into consideration and continued the hearing until January 19 with instructions for the attorney to present more evidence at that time to satisfy the magistrate regarding the condonation plea.
Before the hearing, the court had issued non-bailable warrants for Zaka’s arrest. The charge sheet was previously submitted by the investigation officer, Ramesh Kumar, who claimed that during the investigation, Zaka was allegedly discovered engaging in the promotion of dubious online “Initial Coin Offering/Crypt Currency Courses” and using social media platforms to encourage young people to invest in speculative risk-based businesses despite the State Bank of Pakistan’s ban on such activities. In addition, he introduced a questionable coin called “Tenup” to entice the public into joining his “fictitious business,” the accuser, according to the claimer, paid those who contacted him through social media for these courses.
According to the accusation sheet, Zaka allegedly exploited his salaried bank accounts for money transfers abroad, shady transactions, and fund-raising. According to Muhammad Aman Khan, senior manager of remittances at a private bank, foreign remittances were received into an account with the title of Waqar Zaka seventeen times, including twelve from a US-based company. After he was unable to explain why the remittances had been credited into a salary account, the account was ultimately terminated. It was also stated that he had received foreign remittances in his salary account at a different bank.
To learn more about whether the alleged transactions were reported to the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) or not, the investigation officer claimed to have written a letter to the bank’s head of compliance during the investigation. In response, the bank officials claimed that Zaka had been the subject of three suspicious transaction reports (STRs) against him in the years 2018, 2019, and 2021. This demonstrates that the accused Waqar Zaka used his salaried account for foreign remittances and engaged in suspicious activity, for which he was unable to provide any justification to the relevant bank. As a result, three STRs were eventually reported to the Financial Monitoring Unit, State Bank of Pakistan, he insisted.
According to the charge sheet, Zaka allegedly broke the Pakistan Penal Code’s Sections 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), and 471 (using as genuine a forged document) and PECA’s Sections 13 (making, obtaining or supplying device for use in offense) and 14 (unauthorized use of identity information). But it claimed that no proof had been discovered about Sections 3 and 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).
The agency said earlier in the FIR that an investigation into Zaka was started after it received a source report from the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) in August 2020. According to data gathered by the FIA from the relevant banks, over Rs173 million in transactions were seen in his bank accounts over the last three years, with an overall credit of Rs86.1 million and debt of Rs87.1 million. It was also noted that money was credited into these accounts through international transfers (interbank funds transfers) and the clearing of checks, which was then debited through internal transfers to accounts of his family. According to the report, Zaka utilized social media to raise money for charities and abroad, obtaining Rs3.6 million by telegraphic transfer from a US-based business before withdrawing it via pay order and interbank fund transfer.
The agency stated that “several news articles, blogs, and videos were discovered on a public database which transpires alleged Waqar Zaka’s involvement in cryptocurrency/virtual assets.” “Bitcoin/cryptocurrency-related messages were discovered on his Twitter account throughout the investigation,” the agency said. “The accused also promotes cryptocurrency like Bitcoin through YouTube channels.” The State Bank of Pakistan, it was stated, did not recognize virtual assets as legal cash to keep and transfer value. The central bank had also issued a warning against the risks associated with dealing in cryptocurrencies and forbade the general people from doing so.