Paris: Ten Pakistani nationals have been arrested from the suburbs of Paris, on the suspicion of money laundering, human trafficking and fake documents, ANI reported citing its sources.
As per media reports, police suspect two brothers among the 10 arrested, to be controlling this network. Police got a whiff of the network in June 2020 after being informed of suspicious packages carrying fake European documents arriving in France, from Pakistan via Turkey and Greece.
According to the sources, the fake documents included official documents of countries in the Schengen area and in particular for France, including passports, identity cards and residence permits.
Following this lead, investigators from the Central Office for the Suppression of Irregular Immigration and the Employment of Undocumented Foreigners and OCRGDF (Central Office for the Suppression of Serious Financial Crime) began investigations into the presence of illegal workers operating in the Paris region, largely in the construction sector.
During the probe, the French authorities also unearthed 20 legal companies involved in the construction business that were linked to a large network of “taxi” companies, which were used to redirect the funds to nearly 200 bank accounts opened with false papers.
This network transferred money to the various accounts using fake invoices or documents and then got the money out of the legal circuit by withdrawing large amounts from these bank accounts through ATMs.
Part of the money withdrawn was used to pay illegal Pakistanis working in these construction sites and the remaining money was diverted to Pakistan.
Searches at the houses and offices of these 10 individuals from Val-d’Oise and Seine-Saint-Denis areas in Paris led to the recovery of 157 fake identity documents, 134,000 Euros in cash, four vehicles including a Maserati, documents related to 180 bank accounts and the false papers used to open these accounts.
According to the police, between 2019 and 2021, at least 28 million Euros were transferred to the bank accounts of different people and another 13 million Euros were transferred to the accounts in the names of front companies, sources said.
The case has unearthed the close link between illegal immigration from Pakistan and money laundering.