Pakistan News

FIA requests Supreme Court to constitute JIT for Rs35bn scam probe

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) requested the Supreme Court (SC) to order the formation of a seven-member joint investigation team (JIT) to further investigate the Rs 35 billion money laundering case currently being probed by the agency.

 

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing the money laundering case when the country’s top investigation agency submitted its report regarding the case and forwarded the request.

 

The bench, also comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandiyal and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, hinted that the apex court could hear the case on a daily basis after Sept 5.

 

The FIA in its report said that the agency had discovered a trading company in Dubai affiliated with the Omni Group.

 

According to the report, two foreign bank accounts were created in Omni Group Chairman Anwar Majeed’s son Abdul Ghani’s office.

 

The report reads, “Money was transferred through the Dubai foreign accounts to buy properties in Britain.”

 

The report also revealed that both Anwar Majeed and his son had been found to be owners of a Dubai-based foreign firm, KMA Crown. The agency told the court that it would formally request that government of the United Arab Emirates to investigate KMA Crown.

 

Anwar and Abdul Ghani were accused of having deposited Rs3.12 billion and withdrawn Rs4.01bn from 29 accounts.

 

The report read that till now, Anwar and Ghani could not produce a single document in their defence.

 

It said that during the investigation, two new companies of the Omni group — Anod Gas Limited and Platinium APG — had also been discovered.

 

The report added that FIA officials had raided Khoski Suger Mills after receiving information regarding the presence of an “important record”.

 

A major portion of the record had been torched before the raid, the FIA said, but officials still managed to recover some samples. The report said 27 hard disks had been recovered from the sugar mill, along with weapons. According to the report, the officials were waiting for reports from divisional commissioners and a process has been initiated to freeze the assets of Anwar Majeed and Arif Khan.

 

Furthermore, the report revealed that Sindh Bank and Summit Bank had already frozen the assets of the two in line with the court’s orders. The report alleged that the National Bank of Pakistan also froze the two’s accounts, but helped them withdraw unspecified amounts.

 

The report also said that during the course of the investigation, Anwar Majeed had confessed that he and Younous Kodowari keep business relations. Younous is the owner of Rubicon Builders — a beneficiary of one of the fake accounts.

 

During the hearing, former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s counsel requested the apex court to postpone the hearing to which the CJP replied in the negative.

 

Moreover, the top judge was told by the deputy attorney general (DAG) that the hearing to discuss the JIT’s formation had already been fixed and the former president and his sister Faryal Talpur had already been granted protective bail.

 

“Despite issuing of non-bailable warrants, 10 accused remain absconders,” the DAG added.

 

The CJP also inquired about the protective bail and asked which court had granted it.

 

Furthermore, Omni Group’s counsel told the apex court that he had prepared a written response pertaining to the formation of a JIT.

 

The counsel explained, “However, I travelled to Islamabad through a Pakistan International Airlines flight and my luggage was taken to Lahore.”

 

The DAG then told the Supreme Court (SC) that Omni Group Chairman Anwar Majeed and his son Ghani had been arrested.

 

Moreover, the DAG explaining former Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSE) chairman Hussain Lawai’s situation said, “He has been sent on a judicial remand and is in FIA’s custody.”

 

Furthermore, the SC rejected a request pertaining to Ghani’s shift to a hospital following which a plea for his medical treatment was sought.

 

The hearing was adjourned till Sept 5 due to general adjournment of defence counsel Aitzaz Ahsan.

 

ANWAR MAJEED, SON SENT TO KARACHI JAIL:

On the other hand, a banking court in Karachi sent the Omni Group chairman and his son to jail on judicial remand in light of the money laundering case.

 

The judge asked the FIA prosecutor as to why the investigating officer (IO) was not present.

 

The official told the court, “He is busy in Islamabad but the second investigating officer is present.”

 

“The suspects have been investigated and should be sent on judicial remand,” the official also added.

 

The father-son duo’s counsel argued, “They should be sent to a hospital and not jail.”

 

The court then adjourned the hearing till September 4.

 

Earlier as Majeed was brought to the court, he told reporters, “Only one sugar mill was raided.”

 

He also said, “There were no illegal weapons [in his sugar mill.”

 

Earlier on Monday, Zardari and Faryal Talpur had finally appeared before the FIA and recorded their statements in the money laundering probe.

 

The brother-sister duo appeared before the agency’s joint investigation team (JIT) after being summoned by the agency for the fourth time.

 

Despite earlier summons, the two accused had failed to appear before the JIT.

 

The case was initially registered in 2015 against former PSE chairman Lawai, who is widely believed to be close to Zardari.

 

Later, seven individuals, including Zardari and Talpur, were said to have been found involved in using those accounts for suspicious transactions which totalled Rs35 billion. The accounts were allegedly used to channel funds received through kickbacks.

 

Last month, Lawai and banker Taha Raza were detained and booked for allegedly facilitating the opening of 29 ‘fake’ accounts through which suspicious transactions were made to different companies, including M/s Zardari Group.

 

Initially, Zardari and Talpur avoided appearing before the agency and expressed their distrust in the FIA officials, but later joined the probe after a banking court in Karachi issued their arrest warrants.

 

The two had obtained protective bail in the case from the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

 

Also, warrants were issued for suspects absconding in the case, including Namar Majeed, Aslam Masood, Arif Khan, Naseer Abdullah Hussain, Adnan Javed, Mohammad Umair, Iqbal, Azam Wazir Khan, Zain Malik, and Mustafa Zulqarnain.

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