The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Wednesday said that while it has received numerous calls from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to hand over Amer Ahmed, the accused former Ohio state treasurer’s aide arrested in Pakistan, the agency remains unwavering in its response that US authorities must follow protocol and contact the government if they want to communicate with him.
“We will comply with the government when we have the order for allowing access,” an official requesting anonymity told The Express Tribune. “But we will not allow communication without proper procedure.”
“He is singing the national anthem and praying in custody. He says, ‘I want to live and die here and will not go back,’”, the official said, adding that Ahmad has been under physical remand for three days and has been taken by authorities to verify his two residences in the city.
Mubashir Ahmad Tirmizi, the deputy director of FIA’s Anti-Human Trafficking Circle, is supervising investigation against Ahmad.
Former deputy Ohio treasurer Amer Ahmad, who is wanted by the US Department of Justice, is in the custody of the FIA after he was caught at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal Airport for traveling on forged documents from Mexico.
An American national of Pakistani descent, 39-year-old Ahmad is on the run after a US district court judge issued his arrest warrant on Friday for violating the terms of his release after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery charges for his role in setting up his high school classmate to make $3.2 million in trading commissions off the state in exchange for $523,000 in kickbacks.
Ahmad was released on his own recognizance, pending a sentencing hearing which could send him away for 15 years with heavy fines. Under the terms of his bond, he had to surrender his passport.
When contacted on Tuesday, FIA Punjab Director Dr Usman Anwar said that Ahmad was arrested by the agency in accordance with the law. As far as the US’ request or his red warrants by Interpol are concerned, Usman added that the FIA will proceed according to directions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Interior.
Ahmad’s escape, in his words
FIA authorities obtained files saved on Ahmad’s laptop, which included a diary containing details of Ahmad’s flight from America. An entry dated April 23, 2014 titled “Journey to Freedom – Who said escaping injustice would be easy?” details his panic before leaving America and the measures he took to forge a Pakistani passport.
“I think the day had finally come. I was going to try and leave Chicago… I should have left after that first FBI interview back in November 2012, when I still had my documents and wasn’t indicted,” writes Ahmad in the diary, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune.
He wrote that while he was worried about “transporting so much cash through security” at the airport, he soon found himself in San Diego, from where he headed San Ysidro: the foot crossing border to Mexico. He crossed through to Mexico and went to Tijuana airport, from where he wanted to take a flight to Mexico City and later to Lahore.
In Mexico City on April 24, Ahmad writes, “I went straight to the business center [Le Meridien] and filled out the forms I would need when the [Pakistani] Embassy opened.”
He then wrote that he presented his 1998 National Identity Card from Chakwal Pakistan as well as copies of his parents ID cards, but that the officials at the embassy wanted a birth certificate to verify the connection. He got the money transferred from Lahore to a company in Pakistan which “retrieves your birth certificate from any Pakistani city”.
He stumbled upon another problem when the embassy said that it only accepts Nadra birth certificates, not provincial or municipal ones. The entry ends as Ahmad describes how his taxi driver tells him he knows “just the guy” who will help procure documents.
Described by the American media as the “mastermind behind a bribery and kickback scheme in the Ohio treasurer’s office”, Ahmad’s resume as available with The Express Tribune boasts notable academic qualifications and employment history. With an MBA from Harvard Business school and BA in Political Science from Columbia University, Ahmad has previously also worked as vice-president of investment banking at William Blair & Company in Chicago; financial analyst at Nomura Wasserstein Perella and also as special advisor to the president of Estonia (1995).
A copy of Amer Ahmad's diary, which was discovered by FIA investigators during interrogation, can be found here.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2014.