Najaf Mirza joins NAB to probe fake accounts case

September 23, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The fake accounts investigation took an interesting turn after a powerful police officer from Sindh, Najaf Quli Mirza, joined the top anti-corruption watchdog to quickly probe the...

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ISLAMABAD: The fake accounts investigation took an interesting turn after a powerful police officer from Sindh, Najaf Quli Mirza, joined the top anti-corruption watchdog to quickly probe the multi-billion scam by assisting the Combined Investigation Teams (CITs) engaged to file all 16 references by Jan 2020.

Mirza was the first officer who started the probe into the fake accounts case soon after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) took up the case in November 2015 on the request of Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU). However, he was removed from investigation after the Pakistan People’s Party objected to his partiality last year.

With this interesting development, the NAB team has summoned Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah in Islamabad tomorrow (Sep 24).

“The NAB top administration has engaged Najaf Mirza in ongoing [fake accounts] investigation. Six more officers of NAB are also being added to the CITs. More than 30 officers of NAB are now probing this scam,” a senior official told this reporter.

The NAB’s ongoing investigation suggested that some other key leaders of PPP namely ex-CM Sindh Qaim Ali Shah, sitting CM Murad Ali Shah and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari could face serious investigation in the coming months, said the official who is also part of the CITs.

The NAB teams expect that a few key accused namely Dr Dinsha, Naseer Lootah, Aftab Memon, Aslam Masood and Mohammad Umair would get ready to become approvers, he added.

The NAB teams would also most likely based on their findings seek response of Bahria Town Karachi founder Malik Riaz and his son Ali Riaz and known businessmen Arif Habib and Aqil Kareem as well, he revealed seeking anonymity.

The NAB through plea-bargain has recovered around Rs13.814 billion in this case. The NAB Rawalpindi had filed six references with the accountability courts against former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, Abdul Ghani Majeed, Younus Kidwai, Hussain Lawai, Hasnain Mirza, son of former speaker National Assembly Fehmida Mirza, Zain Malik of Bahria Town and others which were under trial.

Two more references were expected to be filed soon by the NAB, while some 12 investigations were in final stages where the NAB team also engaged 21 other inquiries linked to this case.

The apex court had referred this case to the NAB in Jan 2019. So far, the NAB Rawalpindi has arrested 39 accused and 41 others have been placed on the Exit Control List while the anti-corruption watchdog has been directed by the court to file all the recommended references within six months.

The NAB Rawalpindi has also frozen properties worth Rs51.46 billion in the scam. The NAB also failed to get arrested six key accused, Manzoor Qadir Kaka, Younis Kodwavi, Iqbal Memon, Mushtaq Mehar, Azam Wazir and Hamid Samoo, who fled abroad to avoid investigation.

Some other key accused namely Ahmed Khan, ex-secretary Special Initiatives Department; Hassan Ally Memon, Khawaja Abdul Ghani Majid and Menahel Majid are also facing NAB trial. M/S Harish and Company is also under investigation for taking contracts illegally.

The FIA initially began a discreet investigation into 29 bank accounts through which multi-billion rupee transactions had been made through. Then, the Supreme Court (SC), after around three years, took notice of dead investigation into this case on 5th July 2018, ordering the FIA to probe the scam where billions of rupees transactions were made through over four dozen ‘benami’ accounts — 16 held in Summit Bank, eight in Sindh Bank, five in United Bank Ltd and some accounts were being operated through others banks or companies. Then on July 10, last year, the SCP summoned heads of different business groups, including former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister MPA Faryal Talpur who were allegedly major beneficiary of suspicious transactions believed to be meant for money laundering.

On Sep 5, 2018, the SC formed Panama-like-JIT whose members were Imran Latif Minhas, Majid Hussain, Brig Nauman Aslam, Muhammad Afzal, and Brig Shahid Pervaiz.

The JIT is headed by Ehsan Sadiq who is additional director general in the FIA. The JIT submitted its first report on Sep 24, 2018, second on Oct 22, 2018, third on Oct 30, 2018, fourth on Nov 5, 2018, fifth on Nov 12, 2018, sixth on 28th Nov, 2018 and the final report in the second week of December 2018.

Key development happened in this case when Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur were arrested in second week of June this year. Before these arrests, Hussain Lawai of Summit Bank was arrested on 6th July, 2018, then Abdul Ghani Majeed on 15th August, 2018 then one of the key accused in the ongoing ‘fake’ accounts case, Aslam Masood, was arrested by the Interpol in Saudi Arabia on 23th October last year. After it, FIA arrested Anwar Majeed’s son Nimr Majeed outside the apex court on October 27, 2019.

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