KARACHI: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has summoned Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari in the fake accounts case on May 9.
A private media outlet reported on Monday that the anti-graft watchdog has prepared another reference in the fake accounts case and has summoned the PPP co-chief for further interrogation. It was further reported that the former president has been called in the Harish and Company case.
NAB has alleged that Harish and Company was awarded a contract for water supply from the provincial Special Initiative Department but it did not do required work on the project. The bureau further alleged that the funds reserved for the project were used to meet the expenses of Naudero House.
A reference has been filed against Special Initiative Department former secretary Ejaz Ahmed Khan and others.
NAB noted that Harish and Company was used as a front company by Park Lane Estate which led to a loss of Rs60 million to the national exchequer.
In December last year, NAB had said that an inquiry was initiated against Park Lane Estate Company and officers of Capital Development Authority on allegation of illegal transfer of state land.
According to a statement issued at the time, CDA illegally allotted 118 kanal and 14 marla land of Punjab Forest Department to Park Lane Estate Company (Pvt) Ltd.
Zardari had maintained that NAB has no jurisdiction pertaining to the Park Lane Estate case, as, according to the National Accountability Ordinance, the accountability watchdog was not liable to investigate the matters of a private company.
FAKE ACCOUNTS CASE:
In December 2015, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) began a discreet investigation into certain bank accounts through which multi-billion rupee transactions had been made. According to FIA sources, information regarding the fake accounts came to the fore when an intelligence agency picked up a prominent money changer in an unrelated case.
As the monitoring and investigation of these suspicious accounts continued, it surfaced that five of these accounts in two banks – the Sindh Bank and Summit Bank – had been used for transactions worth around Rs15 billion.
Investigation showed the accounts were operated by fake companies. Funds were credited into these accounts from contractors with multi-billion rupee contracts with the Sindh government. The money was found to have been transferred to accounts of companies owned and operated by the Omni Group, whose chairperson, Anwar Majeed, is a close aide of Zardari. Another beneficiary was Nasir Lootah, the chairperson of Summit Bank.
The probe, however, was shelved. It resumed almost a year and a half later. FIA’s State Bank circle initiated a formal inquiry in January 2018.
By June 2018, FIA had several high-profile names on its list but was unable to make headway – for several reasons. It was at his point that the Supreme Court (SC) intervened. The then chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar took suo motu notice of the ‘slow progress’ in the money laundering case.
In July the same year, Zardari’s close aides; Hussain Lawai, Taha Raza and two others were arrested. Subsequently, the first case was registered in the mega-corruption scandal. The FIA submitted its report to the apex court on July 8 which revealed a web of companies and accounts that were being used to transfer billions of rupees. In all, 29 accounts were identified that received payments, totalling at least Rs35 billion.
In August 2018, Omni Group chief Anwar Majeed was arrested along with son Abdul Ghani Majeed when they returned to the country on being summoned by the apex court. They are now on judicial remand.