FIA launches investigation into misuse of letterheads for visa scam

Illegal Afghans

LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has embarked on a thorough investigation into a startling case involving the fraudulent use of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) letterheads to secure visas for individuals masquerading as lawyers and SCBA members. This scam allowed dozens of people to illicitly gain entry into Europe.

The SCBA has formally filed a complaint with the Director-General of the FIA, urging a comprehensive inquiry into the misuse of its letterheads for orchestrating the illegal transportation of individuals without legal credentials abroad, particularly to Europe, through deceptive visa procurement, Dawn news reported.

The SCBA alleges that an unauthorised and unsigned letter was submitted to the Austrian embassy, fraudulently utilising SCBA letterheads to facilitate the entry of 39 individuals into Europe, all of whom posed as advocates and SCBA members. This incident transpired in June 2022.

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The SCBA pointed out that upon assuming leadership in November 2022, the 25th executive committee of the SCBAP became aware of a grave case of human smuggling that occurred during the tenure of its predecessors, the 24th executive committee of SCBAP in October 2022. During an internal investigation, it was discovered that the Austrian embassy had been approached for the issuance of Schengen visas for members of the association, with the entire correspondence being conducted on SCBAP letterheads.

The complaint emphasised that the list of 39 individuals was issued fraudulently to aid in human smuggling and bore a reference number that had previously been used. In August 2022, an email was received at the SCBAP office in Lahore, forwarded from the Lahore High Court Bar Association, revealing that the Austrian embassy had contacted them for verification of the list of 39 individuals.

In its complaint to the FIA, SCBAP Secretary Muqtedir Akhtar Shabbir expressed suspicions that the majority of the individuals on the list had successfully entered Europe, as they did not return. Given the potential damage to SCBAP’s reputation and the seriousness of the situation, the SCBAP urged the FIA to conduct a comprehensive investigation to identify those responsible for the misuse of SCBAP stationery, the creation of the list of 39 individuals, and the orchestration of human smuggling.

Notably, the SCBAP’s registry branch in Lahore vehemently denied any involvement in the creation of the list of 39 individuals and confirmed that no official stationery had been handed over to anyone for such purposes.

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