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February 16, 2019

Court seeks progress report on money laundering probe

Karachi

February 16, 2019

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday directed a counsel for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to submit a progress report on the bureau’s proceedings of the multi-billion money laundering and fake accounts case.

The direction came on bail applications filed by former Summit Bank head Hussain Lawai, who is considered a close aide to Pakistan Peoples Party Co-Chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari, and banker Taha Raza, against their arrests in the case. The applicants sought post-arrest bail on medical grounds, submitting that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which had arrested them in the fake accounts and money laundering case, could not even submit charge sheet before the trial court.

An FIA investigation officer informed the SHC that the investigation of the case had been transferred to NAB after a Supreme Court (SC) order. A counsel for the federal anti-graft watchdog submitted that the letter with regard to NAB proceedings was to be issued by the NAB chairman. The lawyer requested the SHC to grant some time to file the letter.

An SHC division bench headed by Justice Aftab Ahmed Gorar approved the request and adjourned the hearing till February 21, directing NAB to submit a progress report with regard to NAB proceedings.

Besides Lawai and Raza, Omni group head Anwar Majeed and his son Abdul Ghani Majeed were also arrested by the FIA in the multi-billion money laundering and fake accounts case. Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and others obtained pre-arrest bail from the SHC and Islamabad High Court following the submission of interim charge sheet before a banking court by the FIA, in which they were shown as beneficiaries of the illegal fake accounts and transactions. The FIA had alleged in the interim charge sheet that Omni group directors were involved in the opening of bogus accounts, placement of illegitimate funds for routing of billions of rupees funds and the amount was credited in the fake accounts of a private firm through cheques of the co-accused involved in the scam.

The FIA later filed a statement before the SHC on a petition of Majeed against harassment, requesting the court to dismiss the petition as all cases against the petitioner had been transferred to NAB on the direction of the SC. The FIA submitted that the petitioner should not have any grievance against the agency after the SC order which transferred the cases to NAB for further proceedings in accordance with the law.

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