Interpol removes businessman from red notice list
LONDON: Interpol has removed businessman Umar Farooq Zahoor from its internationally wanted list (red notice) in a high-profile case launched by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) under former liability adviser Shahzad Akbar .
Interpol had added Dubai-based businessman Umar Farooq Zahoor to the Red Notices database after a request by Zahoor’s former wife and actress, Sophia Mirza (aka Khushbakhat Mirza) with the help of Shahzad Akbar who had instructed the FIA to go after the Dubai-based actor. businessman at all costs.
The General Secretariat of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) in Lyon confirmed that Mr. Umar Farooq Zahoor was no longer the subject of an Interpol notice or dissemination.
Interpol confirmed in a letter that “the Commission has carried out the appropriate checks” in accordance with its functions and that the information concerning Mr. Zahoor provided by Pakistan has been removed from the Interpol information system at the request of its Central Bureau. nationally on September 28, 2022.
Documents show that the Interpol Commission – made up of four members from the US, UK, Lebanon and Morocco – removed the red notice category for Umar Farooq Zahoor after the FIA wrote to Interpol on September 26 confirming the approval of the cancellation of the red notice, in a case initiated by the FIA Punjab Zone-1.
Umar Farooq Zahoor’s name has been added to Interpol’s most wanted list after the FIA wrote to international police making several allegations against Liberia’s roving ambassador to Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Pakistan.
Mr Zahoor’s name was removed from the red list after the new investigation, led by FIA officers appointed by the new government, found the allegations against Mr Zahoor to be frivolous and politically motivated.
Investigations later established that the FIA had been approached by Shahzad Akbar to help Sophia Mirza, Zahoor’s ex-wife. The couple married in 2006, divorced less than a year after the birth of twin daughters and have since fought over custody while daughters Zainab and Zuneirah have publicly claimed they want to live with their father.
Umar Zahoor’s predicament began when the FIA Lahore Anti Human Trafficking Circle proceeded to register a criminal case against Zahoor on a complaint by his ex-wife for alleged kidnapping of his own daughters. Meanwhile, FIA Corporate Crime Circle Lahore has also opened an investigation against Zahoor over alleged fraud and money laundering of around Rs 16 billion on the complaint of the same complainant Khushbakht Mirza. The plaintiff accused Zahoor of being involved in an $89.2 million fraud in Oslo, Norway in 2010 and another fraud involving $12 million in Bern, Switzerland in 2004.
The complaint made its way to the federal cabinet agenda of the PTI government via the Ministry of Interior, then headed by Chairman of the Asset Recovery Unit (ARU), Mirza Shehzad Akbar, and the federal government gave the green light to the FIA to investigate the alleged fraud of more than 16 billion rupees by Umar Zahoor and his relative Saleem Ahmad.
In the false and frivolous criminal proceedings filed against Umar Farooq Zahoor: his name was placed on the Exit Control List (ECL); non-releasable warrants in one of the FIRs were obtained from the Court without fulfilling the legal requirements and based on said non-releasable warrants, his passport and CNIC were blacklisted and red warrants were issued via Interpol by the National Crime Bureau (NCB) Pakistan for arresting Mr. Zahoor. Interpol’s Constitution, however, does not authorize the issuance of Red Notices in family and civil disputes; the FIA added heinous offenses in the FIR recorded against Mr Zahoor in order to apprehend him via Interpol.
Interpol has confirmed that it received requests from the Pakistani government in 2020 to issue yellow notices against the underage daughters of actor Sophia Mirza and businessman Umar Farooq Zahoor.
Interpol has further confirmed that international yellow notices for twins Zainab Umar and Zuneirah Umar have been issued and their names have been placed in Interpol’s database for international tracing after two requests from the FIA. were received on April 30, 2020, then again in July 2020 at the request of Sophia Mirza who wanted her daughters to be found by Interpol and brought back to Pakistan.
The names of Zuneirah Umar and Zainab Umar were later removed in July 2021 after an Interpol investigation revealed that legal custody of the two girls had already been granted to Umar Farooq Zahoor being their father and legal guardian by the court of Dubai Sharia.
The two letters issued by the General Secretariat of Interpol’s Office of Legal Affairs confirm that Zuneirah and Zainab, both 15, are no longer “subject to Interpol notice or dissemination”.
In a statement, Mr. Zahoor welcomed Interpol’s decision. He said: “I am happy that Interpol and the FIA have finally realized that the cases against me were concocted by Sophia Mirza and Shahzad Akbar. They used Pakistani taxpayers’ money and resources to target me in a family dispute case. For two years they used the FIA and other institutions against me like a mafia. They used the media to campaign against me and did everything to destroy me, but Allah the Almighty is there for everyone to protect them.
Sophia Mirza had no comment.