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Tuesday May 11 2021

Pakistani gold merchant who provided info to five agencies

File photo of Asif Hafeez with Indian star Shah Rukh Khan.

LONDON: Fresh court documents reveal Pakistani national Asif Hafeez wanted by the US over narco smuggling has acted as informer to several anti-drug authorities of America, Britain, Pakistan, and United Arab Emirates and also United Nations.

Hafeez is currently imprisoned at the Belmarsh prison awaiting decision of his extradition order to America from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Documents seen by The News suggest prior to his arrest Hafeez provided extensive cooperation to American Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents, and also received four letters of praise from the British government.

Pakistan’s Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) appreciated his “cooperation” against drugs traffickers and Dubai’s intelligence officials praised him for the credible information against human traffickers and drug dealing networks, according to court testimonies.

Interestingly, the US government conceded in documents lodged at the UK High Court of Justice that its agents had met Hafeez in Dubai only once contrary to the accused testimony that there were several meetings with different set of agents over a period of several years.

The US has now claimed Hafeez passed information to American government operators to get his business rivals struck out of the scene, including snitching on the alleged business partner and Bollywood actor Mumta Kulkarni’s husband Vicky Goswami, the former Ahmedabad bootlegger turned international drugs lord, and Kenya’s Akasha organisation members, who all are in the US custody after extradited from Kenya.!

A detailed witness statement of Hafeez submitted in the court says that American detectives from the DEA and the CIA met Asif Hafeez on at least nine different occasions in Dubai and London and in one instance asked him to break links with other agencies and work only for the US agents – an offer Hafeez said he refused.

After the last sting operation by a US agent failed in London’s Knightsbridge area in the early summer of 2017, the US government officially asked the UK government to arrest Hafeez on 25th of August, 2017, while he was in London with his family on a break.

Besides the US, Hafeez’s relation with the British embassy in Dubai was significant and the UK authorities had a dedicated code number for him and issued four letters from the Home Office and Her Majesty’s Customs and Revenues in recognition of his tip-offs that led to seizure of a large quantity of drugs destined for the UK.

The former commercial pilot hailed from a middle incline family of Lahore was knows as gold trader when he started meeting the British embassy officials in mid 90s onwards, according to credible evidence seen by this reporter.

On Hafeez’s intelligence, UK officials stopped at Afghanistan-Turkmenistan border a large shipment of drugs being transported to the UK and on another occasion busted a large shipment of heroin at a London airport from Mumbai, documents say.

One such appreciation letters read: “This is an interim letter of appreciation from a representative of Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise at the British embassy in Dubai for the assistance you have recently given to them in apprehending a large consignment of drugs on the Afghanistan-Turkmenistan border. Your assistance in this matter is very much appreciated.”

America’s Department for Justice (DoJ) has claimed that Hafeez contacted the US embassy in November 2014 on his own accord to provide information about certain individuals who were into narcotics business.

In one a series of meetings with US agents Hafeez told US agents he knew “drug dealers Baktash Akasha, Ibrahim Akasha, Vicky Goswami, and Gulam Hussein.”

Hafeez was asked by an agent in one such meeting that if he knew whether any pharmaceutical Pakistani company manufactured “Tramadol” tablets for use by Irani soldiers in Syria. Hafeez, who at that time was involved in producing pharmaceutical medicines in Lahore, denied having any knowledge about “Tramadol” production.

In a meeting with US agents in Dubai private hotel, Hafeez was asked by US agents about his ties with purported smuggler Vicky Goswami who had been arrested in Kenya weeks before. Hafeez told them Goswami had connections with the underworld including with Chotta Rajan Gang who was linked to his brother’s murder in Pakistan.

The Agents then accused Hafeez Of being drugs supplier to Goswami and involved in running Methamphetamine lab in India (a chemical used in heroine production). He was accused illegal narcotics dealings in Peru and Mexico.

However in yet another meeting after this hot conversation on July 2017, US agents asked Hafeez to provide information exclusively to the DEA and cut ties with other agencies including that of Pakistan’s ANF.

In early summer of 2017 a French businessman arranged to meet with Hafeez in London’s Knightsbridge for pharmaceutical productions. The businessman made a huge offer to Hafeez for agreeing to manufacture and sell illegal drugs to him but he declined, according to statement.

Hafeez had been in regular contacts with two senior officials at the Dubai customs and provided them information about the suspected illegal drugs activity in a number of jurisdictions.

To United Nations officials he provided information about drugs dealing gangs in Africa, according to an email exchanges between Hafeez and the UN officials submitted in the court. Hafeez testimonial also include a letter of appreciation from ANF director general dated December 1, 2017 that he helped Pakistani law enforcement in investigations.

Hafeez’s lawyers have told the court in US extradition proceedings that their client had vital information on the drugs dealing networks due to his contacts in harbor communities, local fishermen in fishing villages along the coast of Pakistan and Africa who would inform his workforce about the illegal activity that they thought was taking place.

The UK says there is no case against the Pakistani national in the UK. The Americans have accused Hafeez of conspiring to import heroine into the US with Indian national Vicky Goswami, two Akasha brothers from Kenya and Gulam Hussain. The Pakistani national has appealed to the ECHR not to extradite him to the US where he faces the death sentence. He denies all charges and believes he has been framed by Indian Goswami.

Originally published in The News