FIA seeks Rs29m to investigate Rs35b money laundering scam

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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has sought the allocation of a supplementary grant of Rs29 million for hiring professional help to conclude the investigation of the Rs35 billion money laundering scandal, Pakistan Today has learned.

According to documents available with Pakistan Today, FIA has decided to hire the services of a legal firm named SM Masud & Associates, Advocates & legal Consultants Lahore for help in legal matters pertaining to the investigation of the money laundering through fake bank accounts scam. Supreme Court (SC) Advocate Shazaib Masud has agreed to appear as a special public prosecutor to contest the case at all legal forums on the payment of Rs3 million. Similarly, the legal firm has asked for Rs3 million for bails in banking courts and high court and Rs3 million for all proceedings of the SC.

For this purpose, FIA has written to the interior ministry for the allocation of an additional Rs29 million, stating that the lack of funds is hindering the progress of the investigation. FIA also made it clear to the interior ministry that professional help is needed to examine thousands of bank accounts and tax and audit record.

“It is requested that the approval of the Ministry of Law and Justice, Islamabad and attorney general be obtained for the appointment of SM Masud & Associates, Advocates & Legal Consultants Lahore for appointment as special public prosecutor so that the case in various courts may be properly prosecuted, processed and logically concluded,” stated FIA’s letter signed by FIA Director Law Ali Sher Jakhrani.

FIA also told the interior ministry that funds are needed to pay of the members of the joint investigation team (JIT) formed on the directives of SC to probe the money laundering scam because the members of the JIT are currently stationed in Karachi and many of them are currently staying at hotels and are facing financial problems, therefore, in order to pay them off, additional funds are needed. Rs20 million are needed for the JIT while Rs9 million are needed for legal matters, FIA told the interior ministry.

So far the Finance Division has approved a supplementary grant of Rs10 million only.

Reportedly, FIA’s Additional Director General (Economic Crime Wing) Ehsan Sadiq has been appointed as the head of the JIT by the apex court. The other members of the JIT include Brigadier Shahid Parvez of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Muhammad Afzal of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), NAB Islamabad Director Noman Aslam, Majid Hussain of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Tax Commissioner Imran Latif Minhas.

Seven individuals, including former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur, are said to have used those accounts for allegedly channeling funds received through kickbacks and commissions.