Sindh govt’s non-cooperation with FIA JIT irks SC


–Top court summons provincial chief secy, other officials after JIT head informs judges about govt’s non-cooperation in fake accounts case

–Rs47bn transferred through fake accounts whereas 600 companies, individuals associated with scam


ISLAMABAD: Expressing dissatisfaction over the lack of cooperation extended by the Sindh government to the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) probe into the multi-billion rupee fake bank accounts scam, the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday summoned the provincial chief secretary, among other officials of the province, in the matter.

A Joint Investigation Team (JIT), tasked to probe the fake bank accounts, has submitted a progress report in the top court which revealed that transactions of Rs 54 billion were made through 107 fake accounts.

The report was submitted before a three-member bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar in the case. JIT head Ahsan Sadiq claimed that the Sindh chief secretary and two other top officials of the province failed to provide the required documents.

Rejecting Sadiq’s claim during the course of proceedings, Sindh Advocate General Salman Talibuddin defended the government, saying that the JIT has asked the authorities concerned to produce details of each contract since 2008 with some 46 identified individuals and companies who entered into a contract with the Sindh government.

Sadiq disclosed that “Rs47 billion were transferred through thousands of fake accounts whereas as many as 600 companies and individuals are associated with the scam.” He said that the matter in hand is far more complex than fake account transactions. However, he expressed hope to trace the real beneficiaries of such fake accounts.

He said that the team had found during its investigation that the transactions were made through the fake accounts of rickshaw drivers and vendors. As many as 36 companies associated with the Omni Group had been uncovered in the case, the JIT head claimed.

While summoning secretaries of the provincial government including chief secretary, secretary finance, secretary energy department and secretary of irrigation department, Chief Justice Nisar said that all the concerned should turn up before the court during the next hearing with details sought by the agency.

Turning down the request of Omni Group CEO Anwar Majeed’s counsel to transfer his client to a Karachi-based hospital, the chief justice granted permission for medical treatment in Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology. “I don’t trust any doctor from Sindh,” the top judge remarked.

Meanwhile, in response to a plea of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) seeking to reopen the Omni Group sugar mills, the bench issued notice to the parties of the case to appear before the court in Karachi during next date of hearing. CJP Nisar has also summoned the provincial police chief.

Later, the hearing of the matter was adjourned till October 26.

An FIA JIT had been investigating a 2015 case regarding fake accounts and fictitious transactions conducted through ‘benami’ accounts in Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and UBL.

In September, SC had warned Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah of stern action if he gave any concession to the accused involved in the Rs35 billion fake accounts scam.

Seven individuals, 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 kickbacks.