Pakistani fashion model Ayyan Ali (professionally, she goes by her first name only) was once dubbed Calvin Klein’s “Beauty of the Year,” but is now enduring a different kind of media attention since attempting to leave Islamabad with $500,000, well over the legal limit allowed passengers on flights.
The case has become a cause célèbre in Pakistan since her March 14 arrest, the Independent reports:
Police say they received a tip to search Ali the night of March 14 as she waited in a VIP airport lounge in Islamabad before her Dubai flight. While Pakistani law bars any passenger from carrying over $10,000, investigators say they found $506,800 tucked into her luggage.
Ali has maintained the money was solely hers since her arrest.
If this sounds a little Jackie Brown to you, you’re not alone, the Independent story notes:
Since her arrest, rumors abound tying the model to powerful Pakistani businessmen and politicians, offering a new look into money laundering in this country of 180 million people where corruption remains rampant. And her flitting back and forth to court in designer clothes surrounded by journalists have many alleging she still receives preferential treatment while awaiting trial.
Not too preferential, though, since she’s been held without bail since she was caught with the money. And, of course, conspiracy theories have started to creep up as the 23-year-old awaits her next court appearance, scheduled for June 15:
Media of all kinds have tied Ali into a larger scheme purportedly involving other Pakistani A-list celebrities using their fame as a cover to travel abroad and dump illicit cash into offshore bank accounts.
AP photo by B.K. Bangash