ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau has summoned former president Asif Ali Zardari on May 16 in a case pertaining to Haresh and Company. The Islamabad High Court had barred NAB from arresting Zardari till May 15 and sought a reply in the case.
Meanwhile, the bureau has prepared its response in the case. According to sources, the list of cases and inquiries has been submitted by the accountability watchdog to the high court.
The accountability watchdog said investigation against Zardari in Nooriabad Power Plant Project, Thatta and Dadu Sugar Mills is underway, while four references have already been submitted against the former president in the accountability court.
At least 22 inquiries in the fake bank accounts case are underway against Zardari, while he has obtained bail in five cases, it went on to add.
NAB had alleged that Harish and Company was awarded a contract for water supply from the provincial Special Initiative Department but it did not do required work on the project.
The funds reserved for the project were used to meet the expenses of Naudero House, filing a reference against Special Initiative Department former secretary Ejaz Ahmed Khan and other suspects, it had claimed.
It had noted that Harish and Company was used as a front company by Park Lane Estate which led to a loss of Rs60 million to the national exchequer.
It may be mentioned that the former president had already been granted interim bails in other NAB references related to the money laundering and fake accounts case.
FAKE ACCOUNTS CASE:
In December 2015, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) began a discreet investigation into certain bank accounts through which multi-billion rupee transactions had been made. According to FIA sources, information regarding the fake accounts came to the fore when an intelligence agency picked up a prominent money changer in an unrelated case.
As the monitoring and investigation of these suspicious accounts continued, it surfaced that five of these accounts in two banks – the Sindh Bank and Summit Bank – had been used for transactions worth around Rs15 billion.
Investigation showed the accounts were operated by fake companies. Funds were credited into these accounts from contractors with multi-billion rupee contracts with the Sindh government. The money was found to have been transferred to accounts of companies owned and operated by the Omni Group, whose chairperson, Anwar Majeed, is a close aide of Zardari. Another beneficiary was Nasir Lootah, the chairperson of Summit Bank.
The probe, however, was shelved. It resumed almost a year and a half later. FIA’s State Bank circle initiated a formal inquiry in January 2018.
By June 2018, FIA had several high-profile names on its list but was unable to make headway – for several reasons. It was at his point that the Supreme Court (SC) intervened. The then chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar took suo motu notice of the ‘slow progress’ in the money laundering case.
In July the same year, Zardari’s close aides; Hussain Lawai, Taha Raza and two others were arrested. Subsequently, the first case was registered in the mega-corruption scandal. The FIA submitted its report to the apex court on July 8 which revealed a web of companies and accounts that were being used to transfer billions of rupees. In all, 29 accounts were identified that received payments, totalling at least Rs35 billion.
In August 2018, Omni Group chief Anwar Majeed was arrested along with son Abdul Ghani Majeed when they returned to the country on being summoned by the apex court. They are now on judicial remand.