Ex-Chicago Comptroller Saga: FIA yet to confirm accused as Pakistani citizen

Published: May 2, 2014
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File photo of Pakistani Passport. PHOTO: FILE

File photo of Pakistani Passport. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: 

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has so far failed to find evidence which establishes US national Amer Ahmad as a Pakistani citizen and is weighing options regarding its next move, sources familiar with the matter revealed on Thursday.

Former Deputy Treasurer for the state of Ohio as well as ex-Chicago city Comptroller, Ahmad is wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery charges. Ahmad was arrested from Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore while travelling to Pakistan from Mexico on a forged visa and passport.

The case has raised questions regarding the FIA’s authority to take into custody a foreign national wanted by the FBI and Interpol.  The FIA has obtained the record of Ahmad’s parents from the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra), while the agency is yet to confirm with documentary evidence whether Amer was born in Pakistan.  Ahmad also failed to provide any valid evidence which shows he was born in Pakistan.

FIA sources said that Ahmad’s entry was allowed simply because of his presumed Pakistani origin upon initial inquiry, as he had maintained that his parents are Pakistani citizens and that he was also born here. Although his forged Mexican passport merits a refusal to enter Pakistan, the fake Pakistani visa is what alerted FIA authorities and allowed them to bring the case into its ambit.

According to the law, a child – regardless of age – who arrives in Pakistan is allowed landing permission if his parents are of Pakistani origin.

Officials added that a huge amount of foreign currency carried by Ahmad raised suspicion, and that it was on these grounds that FIA immigration officials decided to take legal action under the relevant sections of the Pakistan Penal Code and Emigration Ordinance.

The FIA has identified the agent who provided a fake birth certificate to Ahmad after receiving an amount of $275 as a bribe. The certificate had shown that Ahmad was born in Lahore.

The FIA’s Anti-Human Trafficking Circle sent Ahmad’s laptop, mobile phone and Google glasses to the FIA’s National Response Centre for Cyber Crime (NR-3) for further forensic as well as technical analyses. Initially, the FIA retrieved important information which helped the agency trace those in Pakistan as well as Mexico who facilitated Ahmad regarding the preparation of fake documents.

During the course of initial interrogation, Ahmad informed the FIA investigators that his parents left Chicago for China a few weeks ago but that they had reached Chicago when he was leaving Mexico for Pakistan.

Nadra records obtained by the FIA show that Ahmad’s father Shamim Ahmad and mother Riffat are Pakistani citizens despite the fact that they have been residing in the US for more than three decades.

After learning that the accused is wanted by the FBI in a financial fraud case and that Interpol has also issued red notices for his arrest, the FIA felt bound to prevent another escape, officials said. Sources said that US representatives in Pakistan have contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as Ministry of Interior regarding the Amer Ahmad case.

“We have received directions through Director General FIA Ghalib Ali Bandesha regarding Ahmad case,” Director of FIA Punjab Usman Anwar told The Express Tribune. He said that the DG of FIA has directed them to proceed according to the law of the land. Editing by Atika Rehman

Published in The Express Tribune, May 2nd, 2014.

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