–Omni Group CFO Aslam Masood is said to be ‘mastermind’ behind money laundering scheme
One of the chief accused in the ongoing fake accounts case, Aslam Masood, was arrested by Interpol on Tuesday as he was boarding a flight from London to Jeddah, a private news channel reported quoting security sources.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) hailed the arrest of Masood — the chief financial officer of the Omni Group of Companies and the “mastermind” behind the scheme to move illicit funds through fake accounts as a “breakthrough” in the case. He is one of the chief suspects in the case, along with 19 other suspects, including former president Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur.
The Supreme Court (SC) had issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Masood, who was declared an absconder, in August. The court had also issued non-bailable arrest warrants against other absconding suspects, including Nasser Abdullah Lootah, Nimr Majeed, Arif Khan, Adnan Javed, Mohammad Umair, Mohammad Iqbal Arain, Azam Wazir Khan, Zain Malik and Mustafa Zulqernain.
Masood, according to his red warrant, is accused of forgery, cheating, impersonation, corruption and money laundering.
An initial probe into the case had suggested that Rs 35 billion were transferred through fake accounts opened in Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and UBL. However, a recent report submitted to the SC by a joint investigation team (JIT) that is probing the case, revealed that transactions to the tune of Rs 54 billion may have been made through 107 fake bank accounts.
JIT head Ahsan Sadiq in his report said that several bank accounts used in suspicious transactions were opened for a brief period of time and were closed after the transfer of money was completed.
Earlier on October 15, five out of the 23 accused fled the country.
MONEY LAUNDERING CASE:
The case was initially registered in 2015 against former Pakistan Stock Exchange Chairman Hussain Lawai, who is widely believed to be close to former president Zardari.
In July, Lawai was arrested in connection with the probe along with the Omni Group chairman, Anwar Majeed, and his son, Abdul Ghani Majeed, were also arrested by the FIA. Lawai, Majeed and his son remain under custody for interrogation.
Investigations so far have revealed that several ‘benami’ accounts at some private banks were opened in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from where transactions worth billions of rupees were made.
The amount, according to the FIA, is said to be black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.