Court issues arrest warrants for Zaka in crypto scam case

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A Karachi court issued on Thursday a non-bail-able (NBA) arrest warrant for television and social media personality Waqar Zaka in a case pertaining to an Rs86 million crypto currency scam.

Earlier this year, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had booked Zaka in connection with an inquiry into alleged virtual currency-related transactions from his bank account. On Thursday, when the matter was taken up by the judicial magistrate, the former TV host failed to appear in court.Subsequently, the judge directed the office to issue a non-bailable arrest for Zaka — who is allegedly absconding to avoid his arrest in the case — and adjourned the hearing till Jan 5.

The FIA has said that an inquiry was initiated against Zaka upon the receipt of a source report initiated by the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU).It stated that during the last three years the aggregated credits of Rs86.1 million and debt of Rs87.1 million were observed in his bank account, adding that the bank’s statement revealed that the funds were being credited into the accounts through foreign remittance and clearing of cheques, which were subsequently debited through internal transfer to the accounts of his different family members.

It went on to say that Zaka used social media for charity purposes and international crowd funding — through which he received Rs6.8 million. FIA added that the money was withdrawn through a pay order and interbank fund transfer.“Whereas, the multiple news, blogs, and videos were found on a public database which transpires involvement of accused Waqar Zaka into crypto currency/virtual assets”, alleged the agency.

“During the inquiry, Bitcoin/crypto currency-related posts were found on his Twitter account, the accused also promotes crypto currency like Bitcoin”, it further alleged.

The agency maintained that after examining the report, secured documents such as copies of the bank records and institutions, and oral evidence, it had been substantiated that the accused — in violation of banking rules and regulations and prescribed law of the country — fraudulently and dishonestly committed the offences of virtual assets/crypto currency trading and facilitating to use virtual assets for transferring funds and generating profits.It added that after the inquiry was initiated and the accused was summoned, he initiated false propaganda against the institutions of the state and was found involved in illegal activities through social media by putting up objectionable material/remarks against the institutions, threats to the government officials and provoking the public against the state.

He was allegedly found guilty of committing the offences punishable under the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, Pakistan Penal Code, Anti-Money Laundering Act 2020 and Foreign Exchange Regulation Act 1947, FIA added.