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JIT report holds Zardari, Omni groups responsible for money laundering

JIT report holds Zardari, Omni groups responsible for money laundering

 

LAHORE: A joint investigation team (JIT) report submitted in the Supreme Court has held Asif Zardari and Omni groups responsible in the mega money laundering and fake accounts case.

On 24.1.2018, a two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heard the suo-motu case at the SC’s Lahore registry issued a notice to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairperson. On December 19, the JIT probing the case had submitted a detailed report in the Supreme Court.

During the hearing, the chief justice remarked, household expenses of Zardari and Bilawal was paid through these companies. “Zardari and Bilawal’s heater bills and even the money spent on their dogs was paid by someone else,” he added.

Further, the chief justice linked Omni Group properties with the court decision. “These properties will be seized,” the chief justice said and adjourned the hearing till December 31.

Earlier during the hearing, the Supreme Court played the JIT report on the projector. The JIT report stated, money was transferred through fake accounts for the construction of Bilawal Houses in Karachi and Lahore. “These companies paid for Bilawal family’s monthly expenditure of over Rs1.2 million,” the report added.

The chief justice also told Zardari’s counsel, Farooq H Naek, “It is a matter of billions of rupees and we will not forgive. We cannot pardon those who looted billions and are now engaging in mischief.”

Turning to Omni Group counsels Muneer Bhatti and Shahid Hamid, Justice Nisar said, “It seems that Omni Group owners are still sitting on high horses. They have looted billions of rupees of the nation and are still engaging in mischief.”

He added. “It seems that they will have to be shifted elsewhere from Adiala jail.” Justice Nisar continued, “There will be no mercy for Anwar Majid.”

“You are a counsel and are taking fees. We will hear you, but we have to make a decision,” the top judge further said.

It is necessary to mention that the 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, according to sources.

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

A banking court on Friday extended the interim pre-arrest bail of former president Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur till January 7 in the ongoing money laundering case.

Earlier, the JIT that has been investigating the fake accounts 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.

The JIT recently observed that either the investigation would be further referred to banking courts, NAB, FIA or it was up to the apex court to decide based on the JIT findings. The 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.