Money laundering case: SC orders to freeze Omni Group’s properties, issues notice to Asif Zardari

  • The JIT report held Zardari and Omni groups responsible in the mega money laundering and fake accounts case.
  • Top court also banned trading and transfers of the properties of the Zardari Group, Bahria Town and Omni Group
Pakistan

LAHORE – The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, and order the authorities to freeze the properties of Omni Group.

A two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar issued the orders while hearing a case pertaining to the mega money laundering and fake accounts at the apex court’s Lahore Registry.

A legal team led by Farooq H. Naek and Lateef Khosa represented the former president before the court in the case.

During the hearing, the top judge ordered that the summary of the joint investigation team’s report, which was submitted to the apex court on Dec 19 by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), be shown on a projector in the courtroom.

The investigation report revealed that Zardari and Omni Group are responsible in the mega money laundering and fake accounts case.

It further stated that money was transferred through fake accounts for the construction of Bilawal Houses in Karachi and Lahore, adding that monthly expenditure of Bilawal’s family was paid by these companies.

The top judge, citing the JIT report, said that household expenses of Zardari and Bilawal were paid through these companies. “Their heater bills and even the money spent on their dogs were paid by someone else,” he added.

The Chief Justice further remarked that the properties of the Omni Groups will be seized.

The top judge also berated the Omni group owners, including Anwar Majeed, a key accused in the case, during the hearing.

The apex court also banned the trading and transfers of the properties of the Zardari Group, Bahria Town and Omni Group following the revelations by the court.

The Chief Justice also ordered Zardari’s counsel to submit a reply by December 31 (Monday).

Money laundering case: Asif Zardari, Faryal Talpur get interim bail till Jan 7

Last week, the banking court extended the interim bail of former president Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur till Jan 7 in the money laundering case.

Earlier this month, the JIT had recommended a legal course against some 415 key individuals and around 172 entities allegedly involved in transactions of approximately Rs220 billion through 104 fake accounts.

While investigating these fake accounts, the JIT report also revealed a domestic worker of Zardari, with an estimated fortune of around Rs8.1 billion stashed into one of his fake accounts. Mushtaq Ahmed, 37, who once served as one of personal staff members of Zardari accumulated the wealth with Zain Malik through a joint fake account maintained in a private bank in Karachi during 2014-15, the report stated.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is investigating 32 people in relation to money laundering from fictitious accounts, including Zardari and Talpur. Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai was arrested in July in connection with the probe.

The former president’s other close aide and Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed a close aide and Omni Group chairman and his son, Abdul Ghani, were arrested by FIA in August.

Over 20 ‘benami’ accounts at some private banks were opened in 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 gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.