LAHORE  -   The Federal Investigation Agency yesterday raided offices of different moneychangers in Lahore, arrested two traders, and seized foreign currency worth Rs 40million.  The move comes a few days after the federal government ordered countrywide crackdown against those hoarding US dollars to create artificial shortage in the local market.

A spokesman for the FIA told reporters in Lahore that raids were conducted on the directives of FIA’s Punjab Director Mohammad Waqar Abbasi to punish those involved in dollar hoarding, money laundering, Hundi/Hawala (illegal money transfer) and “illegal speculation” regarding de-valuing of Pakistani rupee.

“Six special teams were constituted to hunt down dollar hoarders. All teams conducted raids simultaneously at several money exchanges in Lahore to inspect their record,” the FIA spokesman said. During the raid, foreign currency worth Rs 40 million was recovered from DD Exchange Company in Lahore. The FIA also arrested two persons during the raid. They were identified as Hassan Ghulam Ghous and Omar Dar. The authority also registered two separate FIRs against two branches of DD Exchange in Lahore. “The FIA will continue raids to stop dollar hoarding in order to control the artificial shortage of the currency,” the spokesman said.

Earlier, FIA Director Muhammad Waqar Abbasi directed the FIA teams to take strict action against those involved in dollar hoarding to create artificial currency shortage. “The dollars were hoarded to make rupee weaker in the market. This action caused artificial demand of dollar and its rate increased artificially,” another official said. “Since investigations are underway we are expecting more arrests. The raids will continue against hoarders of dollars.”

Waqar Abbasi also ordered FIA officers to step up raids on moneychangers who were involved in dollar hoarding, money laundering, and illegal cash transfer. Different teams of the FIA’s Commercial Banking Circle and Corporate Crime Circle were taking part in the operation.