–Prime accused in mega money laundering scam were to be moved to Karachi’s Malir jail on Sindh govt’s request
LAHORE: The Punjab government on Monday cancelled its previous order to shift Pakistan Stock Exchange former chairman Hussain Lawai and Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed’s son Abdul Ghani Majeed from Rawalpindi to Karachi jail.
The move was made after Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his annoyance over the order.
Lawai and Abdul Ghani Majeed had been allowed to shift to Malir Jail in Karachi by the Punjab government last week. The duo are currently in prison in connection with the money laundering investigation.
The Sindh government had request the Punjab Home Department to shift Lawai and Abdul Ghani Majeed to Karachi, reasoning that a case against the duo is being heard at a banking court in the provincial capital. The Sindh government, in its request, had argued that the two should be imprisoned in Karachi till the case in bank court is finalised.
The Punjab government initially accepted the request but upon the annoyance expressed by the premier during his visit to Lahore, the order was revoked.
FAKE ACCOUNTS CASE:
The apex court had constituted a JIT to probe the case after it took a suo motu notice over delay probe into the scam pending since 2015.
Several prominent individuals, including Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, former Summit Bank president Hussain Lawai and Omni Group’s Anwar Majeed, have been nominated in the case.
Property tycoon Malik Riaz, his son-in-law Zain, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari have also been included in the probe.
The JIT investigating the matter told the SC that a close nexus had been found between a troika of the Zardari Group, Omni Group and Bahria Town. The JIT report revealed that at least 29 bank accounts identified as fake had been used for money laundering of Rs42 billion.
In the fresh report, the JIT contended that prima facie evidence brought to the record during investigations clearly indicated that the Zardari and Omni groups, which started with a paid-up capital of Rs600 in 1981 and Rs6,000 in 2001, respectively, had amassed assets through misappropriation of loans, government funds, kickbacks and proceeds of crime.
The evidence suggested, it said, that the groups had a history of laundering their illegal proceeds abroad through illegal channels of Hundi and Hawala.
The report highlighted that the International Business and Shopping Centre (IBSC) project identified by the JIT to be a “Benami” project of Asif Zardari held in the name of his then frontman Iqbal Memon was frozen in 1998.
Later when Iqbal Memon got exposed and left the country for Canada, the property changed hands in 2000 through Nasir Jamal’s AR Developers and in 2008 was held by Zardari, this time through Park Lane Pvt Ltd.
The report requested the apex court to order the freezing of the assets of both groups held through a different subsidiary and front companies and those held in the name of their directors, pending the final adjudication by the accountability courts, lest the “money laundering cartel” shift its assets abroad.
Similarly, Plots C5 and 6, Clifton, Karachi, where Bahria Icon Towers have been constructed, were identified and frozen in 1998 as “Benami” project of Asif Zardari held in the name of Galaxy Construction owned by his then frontman Saleem Akhter.
This property again come back to be held by Zardari through Galaxy Construction and is now owned by his present front-man Dr Dinshaw Hoshang Ankleseria.
The JIT had recommended that the apex court should also order the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) not to change the ownership through the change of directors of any of the companies holding the assets in question.
The report also mentioned different assets owned by the Zardari Group like Opal 225 Saddar, Karachi, IBSC Saddar of Park Lane, different farmhouses in Tando Allahyar and Nawabshah, a set of some houses in Clifton called Bilawal House, agricultural land, different properties owned by Faryal Talpur, different vehicles of Asif Zardari that belonged to Tosha Khana, including bulletproof vehicles BMW 760, Lexus 570 and Mitsubishi SUV, and assets in foreign countries known to be held by Asif Zardari and Faryal Talpur.
Likewise, the assets owned by the Omni Group and its directors included 16 sugar mills in different districts of Sindh, 19 power generation companies, agriculture farms, real estate and agriculture land, vehicles and bank accounts, the report said.
In its first report, the JIT had mentioned a transfer of Rs357 million from 12 fake accounts into the accounts of Ms Parthenon. It transpired that Ms Parthenon was a front company of M/s Park Lane since it had no independent business of its own when it entered into a joint venture with Park Lane.