Zardari aide Lawai remanded in FIA custody as money laundering probe widens | Pakistan Today

Zardari aide Lawai remanded in FIA custody as money laundering probe widens

  • FIR states Bahria Town among beneficiaries of ‘benami’ accounts to launder Rs35bn
  • Lawai claims innocence, says doesn’t know why he has been taken into custody

KARACHI: Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) chairman and president of Summit Bank, Hussain Lawai was on Saturday remanded by a court in the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) custody till July 11 as an FIR [First Information Report] was registered against Lawai and others in a case pertaining to money laundering.

A judicial magistrate approved Lawai’s physical remand along with Taha Raza, another suspect who was brought before the court.

The FIA had arrested Hussain Lawai the other day in connection with alleged money laundering worth billions of rupees. The investigation agency is probing a potential laundering scandal of Rs35 billion implicating Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Zardari along with his businessman and banker friends.

The probe was launched after the Financial Monitoring Unit of the State Bank of Pakistan generated a Suspicious Transaction Report in January this year about 10 bank accounts.

FIA’s State Bank Circle (SBC) registered an FIR against Hussain Lawai, a close friend of Zardari, Taha Raza, UAE national Naseer Abdullah Lootah who is also the chairman of Summit Bank, and the directors of M/s Omni Group of Industries Anwar Majeed and Abdul Ghani Majeed and others.

The FIR states that accused Lawai and Taha Raza, a manager at Summit Bank, are in the custody of FIA CBC and produced before the court on Saturday.

The FIR said that one of the total 29 accounts was fraudulently opened using CNIC of one Tariq Sultan. This account was subsequently used to place illegitimate funds for purpose of money laundering. The purported account holder Tariq Sultan denied to have opened the said account, the FIR said.

The main payers/creditors of this accounts were Bahria Town Karachi Project (Zain Malik), M/s Sujawal Agro Farms (Pvt) Ltd, M/s Tando Allahyar Sugar Mills (Pvt) Ltd, M/s Omni (Pvt) Ltd, M/s Agro Farms Thatta, M/s Alfa Zulu Co (Pvt) Ltd, M/s Haji Mureed Akbar (Banker on behalf of Contractor), M/s Sher Muhammad Mugheri & Co (Contractor), M/s Sardar Muhammad Asharif D Baloch (Pvt) Ltd (Contractor), M/s A-One Int’l (Account reported in STR), M/S Lucky International (Account reported in STR), M/s Logistic Trading (I.I. Chundrigar (Account reported in STR), M/s Iqbal Metals, M/s Royal International and M/s Umair Associaties, the FIR said.

The main beneficiaries of the account, however, are Naseer Abdullah Lootah, M/s Ansari Sugar Mills (Anwar Majeed, Ali Kamal Majeed), M/s Omni Polymer Packages (Pvt) Ltd (Abdul Ghani Majeed, Ali Kamal Majeed), M/s Pak Ethanol (Pvt) Ltd (Mustafa Zulqarnain Majeed, Abdul Ghani Majeed, M/s Chamber Sugar Mills (Anwar Majeed, Nimr Majeed), M/s Agro Farms Thatta (Anwar Majeed, Nazli Majeed), M/s Zardari Group (Asif Ali Zardari, Faryal Talpur etc), M/s Parthenon (Pvt) Ltd (Iqbal Khan Noori) and others.

The total amount of money-laundering from this account was Rs 4.145 billion

The FIR said that Lawai and the other bankers facilitated the opening of 29 fake accounts in the Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and United Bank Limited, where the ‘beneficiaries of the Sindh government’ had deposited Rs35 billion, which were was subsequently transferred to different accounts including one allegedly belonging to Hussain Lootah.

As per the contents of the report, the biggest transfer made out of the alleged fake accounts was to Lootah of Rs2.492 billion.

Earlier on Friday, Lawai had been taken into custody by the FIA for further investigation in a money laundering scandal, termed by many as the “biggest in Sindh’s history till date”.

The amount is said to be black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes, particularly involving Bahria Town.

Lawai was stopped from going abroad via Jinnah International Airport in Karachi on June 26 by the FIA for investigation purposes.

Soon afterwards, son-in-law of Malik Riaz, Zain Malik was also stopped from going abroad.

Zain Malik, along with Shahrukh Jatoi’s father Sikandar Jatoi, had deposited Rs2 billion into the accounts. It is being suspected that the accounts were used to launder money from Bahria Town and other housing projects.

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar has taken notice of the money laundering scandal and summoned the FIA director general on Sunday (July 8).

Talking to media, Hussain Lawai said that he had no connection whatsoever with the money-laundering case.

“No recovery was made from me. I’m president of a bank, not a mere branch manager,” he said, adding that he did not know whether he had been arrested due to his ties with Zardari or for some other reason. “Time will tell why I’m being targetted, whether the money-laundering happened or not.”

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