SHC dismisses appeals against transfer of fake accounts case to Rawalpindi
Former president Asif Ali Zardari, Faryal Talpur, Abdul Gani Majeed, Anwar Majeed and Hussain Lowai had appealed against the banking court's ruling in the Sindh High Court. A couple of PPP leaders including Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah had advocated that the probe be held in Karachi saying, their [party's] experience with Rawalpindi was not good.
During the hearing of the case today, the defence submitted their reply to NAB's reply following which the defending lawyer, Farooq H. Naek, gave his concluding arguments and emphasized that all the points had been made during previous hearings of the case.
"The Supreme Court had only given orders for further investigation in the case," Naek argued and said there was no reason to shift the case to Rawalpindi.
Upon this, the court inquired if the orders had not directly been given by the Supreme Court, did the NAB chairman not have the authority to request the transfer of a case.
However, the defending lawyer insisted that a NAB court does not have such authority to hear the case adding that the NAB chairman should have waited for a final challan to be submitted in court before handing in the application to transfer the case.
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The lawyer for Hussain Lawai and Taha Raza, Shoukat Hayat, in his concluding arguments claimed that this was the 'first case in history to have been shifted from one province to another'.
"A trial court does not hold the power to transfer a case from one province to another," he said, adding that the NAB chairman also does not hold this privilege.
The counsel for Anwar Majeed and Abdul Ghani Majeed, Barrister Jamshed Malik, contended that had the apex court given clear orders for the case's transfer, the NAB chairman would not have had to write to the court requesting it.
"The investigation officer in the case would simply have come in and said that the top court has ordered for the case to be transferred," he pleaded and insisted that the banking court overstepped its powers when it transferred the case.
The arguments, however, did not impress the court following which it rejected all appeals, thereby approving the transfer of the case from Karachi to Rawalpindi's accountability court.
The Federal Investigation Agency had named Zardari, Talpur, Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed, his sons and over 10 others as suspects in an interim charge sheet filed in the banking court in August last year.
They were accused of alleged money laundering to the tune of over Rs4 billion through 29 ‘fake’ bank accounts in three banks.
On March 15 of this year, a banking court had approved the National Accountability Bureau's request to transfer the case to the accountability court of Rawalpindi for trial.
The orders had been issued after the Supreme Court referred the matter to accountability watchdog to launch its probe independently and wind it up within two months.
The fake bank accounts cum money-laundering probe started last year when then chief justice Saqib Nisar ordered the formation of a Joint Investigation Team for a thorough investigation. The case was brought to light in 2015, however, high-profile arrests were made on the directives of the former top judge.
The National Accountability Court is also investigating the case and recently it arrested former Karachi Port Trust (KPT), Secretary Aftab Memon.
The apex court had formed a JIT in September to probe the money laundering case involving Rs35 billion funnelled through fake bank accounts at three local banks; according to Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the amount laundered exceeds Rs 100 billion.
Sources privy to the developments reveal that the JIT interrogated 97 people, including Asif Ali Zardari, Faryal Talpur, Anwar Majeed, his son and former Summit Bank president, Hussain Lawai.
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