Thursday June 01, 2023

Money laundering case: Omni Group threats on record, says CJP

Anwar Majeed, a close aide of former president Asif Ali Zardari, and his son Abdul Ghani, were arrested on August 15 in connection with the case.

December 06, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday said mobile phones of the family of Omni Group Chairperson Anwar Majeed were confiscated in jail as the Supreme Court has audio recordings of the group issuing threats.

A three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice heard the case regarding money laundering through fictitious bank accounts. Anwar Majeed, a close aide of former president Asif Ali Zardari, and his son Abdul Ghani, were arrested on August 15 in connection with the case.

As the hearing went underway, Omni Group lawyer Shahid Hamid told the court, “A settlement between banks and Omni Group will be presented.” However, the counsel of the banks, Naeem Bukhari, said, "The theft of 2.5 million bags of sugar is a criminal act.”

At this, Justice Nisar remarked, “If this is a fraud, then you should immediately contact the civil and criminal forums.” The top judge added, “It seems like all the procedure for the bank guarantee was documented. All those involved in the case will have a case registered against them. There will be an investigation conducted against those involved in the debt and guarantee.”

Chief Justice Nisar continued, “The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) will conduct the investigation on the court’s order.” However, Hamid said, “Omni Group is not a defaulter. The farmers are in trouble as the sugar mills have closed down.” To this, the CJP said, “The court will take over the sugar mills and will not let anyone go into a loss.”

The bench added, “Omni Group was dishonest with the banks regarding the guarantee and the court wishes to conduct a criminal investigation against them.” The CJP further remarked, “Papers should be submitted. When the pact will need to happen, it will happen. Omni Group only wants to gain time. If Omni Group wants to make a pact, it should pay the bank Rs5 billion it owes.”

At this, the Omni Group lawyer sought time from the court to submit a reply as they have to seek instructions from their client, Abdul Ghani Majeed, who is currently incarcerated in the Adiala Jail.

Granting permission to Abdul Ghani Majeed and Hussain Lawai to meet their lawyers, the court stated, “The lawyers should meet them and inform the court.” The Omni Group lawyer further petitioned the court to delay the hearing till Thursday, on which Chief Justice Nisar said, “We will sit till tonight not till tomorrow. If I told the court how much fee you have taken for the case, people will be shocked.”

It may be noted that 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 was arrested in July in connection with the probe.

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.

The case was initially registered in 2015 against former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Lawai. In August, Lawai and banker Taha Raza were detained and booked for allegedly facilitating the opening of 29 ‘fake’ accounts through which suspicious transactions were made to different companies, including M/s Zardari Group.