–CJP orders FIA to include names of Omni Group’s chairman’s family members in no-fly list
–Chief Justice Nisar says ex-interior minister Nisar proposed inclusion of MI, ISI officers in Panamagate inquiry, Chaudhry Nisar denies
ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Wednesday took former president Asif Zardari’s close aide and Omni Group Chairman Anwar Majeed into custody outside the Supreme Court, where he and his family had appeared after repeated absences from hearings of a case pertaining to money laundering of Rs 35 billion through fake bank accounts.
Majeed and his family had been summoned to court on Aug 13, for the previous hearing of the case, but had not appeared before the three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar.
The CJP had then rejected the Majeed family’s notice of absence, contemplated charging them with contempt of court, and summoned them to appear in court at the earliest.
As Anwar, Nimr, Ghani, Kamal, and Zulqernain Majeed appeared before the court on Wednesday, the SC ordered their names be placed on the Exit Control List.
The bench was told that Anwar and Ghani’s names were already on the no-fly list, after which the court ordered that Nimr, Kamal and Zulqernain’s names be added to the list.
“If Asif Zardari, Faryal Talpur and (Bahria Town Executive Director) Zain Malik can appear before the FIA, then why not the Majeed family,” the CJP commented.
Justice Nisar said: “If the FIA wishes, the Majeed family can be taken into custody. I don’t have any objections to it.”
Subsequently, Anwar Majeed was taken into custody outside the court.
Omni Group lawyer Shahid Hamid prayed that the court unfreezes the company’s accounts, which the court denied.
“The FIA will proceed with the investigation as it desires,” the CJP said.
On Monday, the DG FIA had informed the court that officials had found 15 more accounts of A-One International, from which Rs6 billion had been transacted.
He had said that an account was opened in the name of a person, who worked as a graphics designer with a private TV channel, and Rs800 million were transacted from this account. Another fake account was opened in the name of a Lahore woman, from which Rs1.5 billion were remitted.
The official had said that he could say for sure that bribe money was deposited in these accounts.
Hamid had, however, said that there was no mention of bribery or corruption in the JIT report and all finances of Omni Group were legal, which was also audited.
The FIA is investigating 32 people in relation to money laundering from fictitious accounts, including Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur. Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai was arrested last month in connection with the probe.
Over 20 ‘benami’ accounts at some private banks were opened in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from where transactions worth billions of rupees were made, according to reports. The amount, according to reports, is said to be black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.
‘CHAUDHRY NISAR INCLUDED ISI, MI IN PANAMAGATE JIT’:
During the hearing of the case on Wednesday, Chief Justice Nisar also claimed that former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had included Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) officials in the Panama Papers joint investigation team (JIT) that probed the Sharif family and consequently led to the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister of the country.
During the hearing, the court discussed the matter of a fresh ‘Panama-style’ JIT, that it said would be set up to probe the case instead of the FIA JIT, which Zardari and his sister earlier claimed to have reservations with.
The court deferred the formation the JIT until the court hears the lawyers’ arguments in the case.
In the last hearing, CJP Nisar had hinted that the JIT would not have representatives from ISI and MI, as the Panamagate JIT probing the Sharif family did.
Justice Nisar had said: “Maybe the members of the ISI and MI were included in the Panama Papers leaks case to spice up (Tarka) the probe,” dismissing the possibility of inclusion of the intelligence agencies officials in the white-collar crime.
In Wednesday’s hearing, the top judge denied that the court had called for the inclusion of the MI and ISI officials in the Panamagate JIT and made the startling revelation that then interior minister and PML-N stalwart “Chaudhry Nisar had included them in the JIT.”
NISAR DENIES CHARGE:
Chaudhry Nisar, however, has refuted the claims and said that neither he nor the Interior Ministry were responsible for the formation of Panama JIT. He went on to say that the JIT was formed on the orders of the court and as such, the inclusion of intelligence officials was also carried out on the orders of the court.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Nisar clarified that no ministry or government official was involved in the process. He said that the registrar of the Supreme Court had himself asked for three names from SECP, NAB and FIA to form a JIT, adding that the registrar also included names of ISI and MI officials in the team.
It is pertinent to mention that Chaudhry Nisar had earlier claimed that he was against the inclusion of intelligence officials in the JIT that investigated the Panama Papers cases against former premier Nawaz Sharif.
The former interior minister said when JIT was being formed, he had asked Sharif to meet with the army chief to discuss the formation of the JIT and ask him to withdraw army officers from the team. However, he said this meeting never went ahead despite the former premier voicing his agreement with Chaudhry Nisar.