SC tightens noose on key suspects in mega money laundering case | Pakistan Today

SC tightens noose on key suspects in mega money laundering case

–Apex court orders freezing of all fake accounts, bars sale of all properties mentioned in JIT report

–Summons all records pertaining to case at next hearing on Jan 31

–Omni Group chairman and son say no documentary evidence was provided with JIT report 

–Bahria Town’s Zain Malik says JIT report based on ‘assumptions, conjectures’ 

LAHORE: The Supreme Court (SC) on Saturday ordered that all records related to the fake bank accounts be seized and presented before it, as Omni Group Chairman Anwar Majeed, his son Abdul Ghani Majeed, and Zain Malik, the son-in-law of property tycoon Malik Riaz, rejected the charges levelled against them in the joint investigation team (JIT) report.

In its interim order in the mega-money laundering and fake accounts case, the court stated that all records related to the case should be seized and presented before it in the next hearing, which is to be held on January 31.

It further directed that all fake bank accounts identified in the JIT report be frozen. It also ordered the monitoring of all transactions made from the accounts.

As per the order, a ban has been imposed on the direct and indirect sale or purchase of all buildings and properties mentioned in the JIT report.

TRIO ACCUSED DENY ALLEGATIONS:

Meanwhile, Anwar Majeed, his son and Zain Malik denied all the allegations leveled against them in the JIT report in their response submitted to the apex court.

The three accused have declared themselves innocent and requested the court to dismiss the JIT report.

The Omni Group chairman and his son claimed that statements of 924 unknown people were recorded in the case while the investigation officers have also not given them the details of the record being analysed.

“No material or documentary evidence was provided with the JIT report to support the allegations,” they further stated in their response.

“The JIT has no basis to recommend transferring the matter to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB),” the response stated, adding that approval of JIT’s recommendations will be a violation of basic rights.

In his reply, Zain also rejected the JIT’s claim, saying that its report had “misread and misconceived” the documents provided by Bahria Town.

The JIT report had claimed that Zain maintained Bahria Town accounts through which about Rs10.2bn were allegedly laundered.

According to Zain’s response, Bahria Town had entered into a joint venture with Zardari Group, that owned a plot measuring 6,813.74 square yards in Karachi’s “prime commercial area” and was “ideal for development as a building project which would include hotels, shops, offices and residential flats”.

The reply refutes claims that Bahria Town had awarded Rs1.2bn to the Zardari Group as kickbacks, adding that “the manner and mode in which Zardari Group utilised the sum of Rs1.22bn has neither any nexus nor Bahria Town is responsible for the same”.

Furthermore, JIT’s allegation that Bahria Icon Tower was built on controversial land and encroached upon a large portion of the Bin Qasim Park were also rejected as “based on surmises, conjectures and assumptions”.

The JIT in its report had recommended NAB cases and freezing of assets of the Zardari Group and its front companies. The JIT members also suggested that all the persons involved in money laundering needed to be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL).

On Monday, the top court barred the trading and transfers of the properties of the Zardari Group, Bahria Town and Omni Group after a report submitted by a JIT held them responsible in the mega money laundering and fake accounts case.

During the hearing, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar had remarked that household expenses of Zardari and Bilawal were paid through these companies. “Zardari and Bilawal’s heater bills and even the money spent on their dogs was paid by someone else,” he had added.

The JIT report further said, “These companies paid for Zardari family’s monthly expenditure of over Rs10.2 million. Even money for the construction of Bilawal houses in Lahore and Karachi were paid through fake bank accounts.”

“Omni Group also kept making payments for dry cleaning of Zardari’s clothes,” the report stated.

“Rs1.2 billion were transferred to the account of Zardari’s sister Faryal Talpur which was used to purchase land for Bilawal House, Lahore and land in Tando Allahyar,” it added.

Justice Nisar had also remarked during the proceedings that there will be no mercy for Anwar Majeed and for those who looted billions.

In the wake of the JIT report submitted in the top court, the federal government on Thursday placed 172 people in the ECL.

The list includes the names of Zardari’s sister Faryal Talpur, Sindh Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah, former Sindh CM Qaim Ali Shah, provincial ministers Imtiaz Shaikh and Mukesh Chawla, former Sindh home minister Sohail Anwar Siyal, Land Utilisation Secretary Saqib Somroo and Malir Deputy Commissioner Kazijaan Mohammad.

In addition to civil servants and politicians, at least 10 members of the Omni Group, including its Chairman Anwar Majeed and his sons Abdul Ghani Majeed, Nimr Majeed, are also on the no-fly list.

MONEY LAUNDERING CASE:

The case was initially registered in 2015 against former Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSE) chairman Hussain Lawai, who is widely believed to be close to former president Zardari.

Besides the ex-president and his sister, real estate tycoon Malik Riaz’s son-in-law Zain Malik and 14 other bankers and businessmen have been booked in the case pertaining to alleged laundering of Rs4.14 billion through 29 ‘fake’ bank accounts, while Hussain Lawai, Taha Raza, Anvar Majeed and Abdul Ghani Majeed have been detained for their alleged involvement in facilitating the transactions.

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.



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