SC orders JIT probe into Rs35b money laundering case

  • The JIT would report the findings fortnightly
Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court has ordered the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe into an ongoing high-profile Rs35 billion money laundering case.

Resuming the hearing of the case on Wednesday, the chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar expressed that the said team would submit a report on the matter every 15 days.

A three-judge bench headed by the top judge is inquiring into the money laundering of Rs35 billion from fictitious bank accounts.

During the hearing of the case, Director General Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Bashir Memon recorded his statement and said the agency recently conducted a raid at Omni Group’s Karachi office.

“We found documents related to Kam Crown International Trading House Company in Dubai during the raid,” the DG FIA elaborated.

The FIA official continued that based on those documents, another raid was conducted at the Dubai office where numerous records of foreign currency accounts were found.

Memon informed the bench that the records of accounts found from the Dubai office belonged to the family of Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed and the transfers in the accounts were made by the same people as those indicated in the account details found earlier.

“From Dubai, money was sent to England and France,” he said and added that the investigative agency also seized several hard drives containing a massive amount of data.

Upon this, Justice Ijazul Ahsan questioned if FIA has people who can check the data? The DG FIA then responded that the cyber crime wing was working on it but there was a lot of data to be scrutinized.

The chief justice then remarked that a joint investigation team (JIT) should be constituted to probe this matter.

Following the observation, Justice Ahsan questioned if anyone had reservations about the formation of a JIT, to which Justice Nisar said, “Who will have any reservations?”

“The suspects will get a clean chit. This matter has nothing to do with the suspects,” the chief justice added.

When the debate regarding JIT propped up, Majeed’s counsel Shahid Hamid argued that he had filed a miscellaneous petition regarding the JIT, which needed to be looked into.

However, Justice Nisar remarked that the court had records of the conversation between Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed and the chief minister.

It was said that Majeed can reside at the chief minister’s residence, the chief justice observed and added that the bench will transfer the case to Punjab.

The top judge clarified the matter pertains to Rs35 billion and so the bench desired a transparent investigation.

The FIA is investigating 32 people in relation to money laundering from fictitious accounts, including Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur. Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai and Anwar Majeed were also arrested in the case.

According to the details, over 20 ‘benami’ accounts at some private banks were opened between 2013, 2014 and 2015 from where transactions worth billions of rupees were made.

The amount, according to FIA sources, is said to be black money minted from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.