Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has registered a case against Shaheen Air International (Karachi International) for suspected money laundering following a complaint by the country's Civil Aviation Authority that the defunct carrier allegedly caused a loss of over PKR1.4 billion rupees (USD8.38 million) in public funds, UrduPoint news reported on July 13.

The case has been registered at the FIA’s corporate crimes unit in Karachi, the agency’s Karachi director, Munir Ahmed Shaikh, said.

In an initial inquiry it was found that the airline had to pay certain “flight operation charges” to the aviation authority but had allegedly defaulted on these payments from March 2018.

Shaheen Air International suspended flight operations in August 2018, facing a mountain of debt, but then operated on an on-off basis until permanently ending operations in late September. Later promises to restart never materialised and the company filed for bankruptcy in February 2019. The owners had reportedly already fled Pakistan in December 2018.

Shaikh claimed that the carrier's management, including chairman Kashif Sehbai and chief executive Ehsan Khalid Sehbai, had deliberately withheld the charges due to the the CAA, the newspaper Dawn reported.

The FIA approached the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) to file cash transaction reports (CTRs) and suspicious transaction reports (STRs) on the accused individuals, and the FMU then contacted the relevant authorities in Canada.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police subsequently intercepted two people who were in possession of cash totalling CAD500,000 Canadian dollars (USD370,000). According to Dawn, Shaikh disclosed that Yawar Mehmood Sehbai, a former director of the company, was one of those who had been arrested.