ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court formed a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe money-laundering allegations, while directing authorities to place presidents of United Bank Limited (UBL), Sindh Bank, and Summit Bank on the Exit Control List (ECL).
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, was hearing a suo motu case pertaining to the alleged use of fake bank accounts to launder money.
Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director-General Bashir Memon informed the top court that the investigation in the matter was initiated on an intelligence tip in 2010.
“Out of the 29 accounts identified by FIA, 16 existed at Summit Bank, eight at Sindh Bank and five at UBL, while transactions worth Rs35 billion were recorded among seven people,” Memon said.
During the hearing, Memon revealed ownership of various accounts and elaborated bank transfers.
“Rs70 million were transferred to Ansari Sugar Mill, Rs5 million to Omni, Rs15 million to Pak Ethanol, Rs200 million to Chamber Sugar Mill, Rs5.7 million to Agro Firm and Rs15 million to Zardari Group Pvt Ltd through alleged fake bank accounts,” he elaborated.
The top judge inquired about why the suspect behind money-laundering of over Rs35 billion had not been summoned. To this, Memon said that FIA had sent notices to all suspects.
“The agency recently arrested Hussain Lawai – vice-chairman of Summit Bank and a close aid of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari,” he said.
The chief justice, while noting the gravity of white collar crimes, ordered the formation of joint investigation team (JIT) comprising financial experts along the lines of the infamous Panama Papers.
The top court also issued notice to the presidents/chief executive officers of Sindh Bank, Summit Bank and UBL and directed the government to place their names on ECL. Notices have been issued to other senior officials of the banks as well.
Former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, Tariq Sultan, Erum Aqeel, Muhammad Ashraf and Muhammad Iqbal Arain are among those who have been issued notices to appear before the top court on the given date.
Meanwhile, Nasir Abdullah, Ansari Sugar Mills, Omani Polymer Packages, Pak Ethanol Private Limited, Chambar Sugar Mills, Agro Farm Thatta, Zardari Group, Parthenon Private Limited, AOne International, Lucky International, Logistic Trading, Royal International and Ameer Associate are among the beneficiaries named in the fake bank accounts case.
The apex court has also summoned details from State Bank of Pakistan regarding a transfer of Rs7 billion from Summit Bank. The hearing has been adjourned until July 12.
Earlier, the FIA’s State Bank Circle (SBC) had registered an FIR against Chairman of the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) and former president of various banks Hussain Lawai, a close friend of Zardari, Taha Raza, UAE national Naseer Abdullah Lootah who is also the chairman of Summit Bank, and the directors of M/s Omni Group of Industries Anwar Majeed and Abdul Ghani Majeed and others.
On Friday, Hussain Lawai was taken into custody by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for further investigation in a money laundering scandal, termed by many as the “biggest in Sindh’s history till date”.
According to reports, 29 ‘benami’ accounts opened in the names of seven people were used to launder around Rs25 billion. The accounts were opened in three banks, including Summit Bank and Sindh Bank, reportedly under the names of businessman Anwar Majeed and employees of Omni Group.