334 people, 210 companies involved in Rs35bn money laundering | Pakistan Today

334 people, 210 companies involved in Rs35bn money laundering

–JIT informs SC that 33 more fake accounts have been revealed during probe

–SC bars special court hearing Omni Group’s plea seeking liquidation of assets and accounts from issuing order without apex court’s approval

–Omni Group owner Anwar Majeed, son, Hussain Lawai shifted back to jail after CJP rejects their medical reports

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Monday told the Supreme Court (SC) that a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has found 33 more suspicious accounts in the fake bank accounts case.

An FIA JIT, formed on the orders of the apex court, has been investigating a 2015 case regarding fake accounts and fictitious transactions conducted through 29 ‘benami’ accounts in Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and United Bank Limited.

Seven people, including PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur, were said to be involved in using those accounts for suspicious transactions. The accounts were allegedly used to channel funds received through commissions and kickbacks.

While hearing a suo motu case regarding a delay in the FIA probe into the case, the SC had constituted a JIT to probe into the matter.

FIA Additional Director General Economic Crime Wing Ehsan Sadiq, who is heading the JIT, submitted a report in court on Monday which revealed that 29 suspicious accounts had been scrutinised again, and during the investigation, 33 more suspicious accounts had been uncovered, which are now being investigated. Additionally, 210 companies were also found with alleged links to the case, the report added.

The report said that 47 of these companies were associated with the Omni Group. The Omni Group also owns 16 sugar mills, the report said, adding that 334 people are allegedly involved in the transactions.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar remarked that attempts had been made to show large amounts of stolen money as legally obtained wealth.

ACTION AGAINST OMNI GROUP’S OWNERS:

The CJP, upon inquiring about the whereabouts of the Omni Group accountant Arif, was informed that he was currently out of the country but the JIT had approached Interpol to bring him and others at large back to the country.

CJP Nisar then turned to the counsel of the Omni Group, Shahid Hamid, and directed him to sell off a house owned by the group to pay for the JIT’s expenditures. The lawyer said that all the assets and bank accounts of the group had been frozen.

The lawyer told the chief justice that the group had already filed a plea in a special court seeking liquidation of the assets and accounts. Justice Nisar observed that the apex court could regulate a special court. Subsequently, the SC under Article 184 of the Constitution barred the special court from issuing any order pertaining to the case without informing the apex court.

Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) Executive Director Dr Seemi Jamali told the court that members of a medical board set up by the SC had visited the hospital on Muharram 9 and 10. The board had examined a patient, she told the court.

The additional attorney general on Monday submitted a report by a medical committee tasked with examining Anwar Majeed and his son Abdul Ghani.

The medical report and recommendations by the committee suggested that both Majeed and Ghani are fit to participate in the investigation.

The court was told that Majeed was suffering from haemorrhoids. The CJP gave Majeed two options ─ to either opt for surgery or go to jail. Majeed’s lawyer sought time to review the medial committee’s report but Justice Nisar ordered that Majeed be shifted to jail.

“There are no issues with Majeed’s heart. Shift him to jail, he has been enjoying himself in the hospital for the past month and a half,” the CJP said. Subsequently, Majeed, Ghani and former Pakistan Stock Exchange head Hussain Lawai were shifted to jail.

The CJP warned against any external pressure being applied in the case. “Convey my message to the Sindh chief minister as well,” he said. “Any pressure in this case will not be tolerated.”

He also warned Sindh CM Murad Shah against offering the jail superintendent’s room to the suspect.

“Action will be taken if the court comes to know that the accused were offered the jail superintendent’s room,” he said.

The CJP said he might hand over the issue to the government of Punjab. Concluding the matter, the chief justice directed the JIT head to shift Majeed to the hospital when and if he needs to undergo surgery.

The court directed the Defence Ministry to submit a report on the medical board. The hearing of the case has been adjourned for 10 days.



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