Fake accounts case: JIT submits money laundering inquiry report

Published: December 20, 2018
Asif Ali Zardari. PHOTO: AFP

Asif Ali Zardari. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: A Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has completed its report in a major money laundering and fake bank accounts case involving the Omni Group in which former president Asif Zardari has also faced questions.

The head and members of the JIT went to Islamabad and submitted to the Supreme Court the report of the investigation that continued for three months and eleven days. Eleven boxes containing documentary evidence were also taken to the federal capital.

The investigation of money laundering involving billions of rupees started in December 2015. According to sources in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), suspicious bank accounts were unearthed and the owner of a money exchange company taken into custody by an intelligence agency made disclosures about them during investigations.

Initial investigations revealed that suspicious transactions of approximately Rs15 billion had been made through such accounts in the Sindh and Summit banks. Contractor companies working with Sindh government deposited money in the accounts of companies which later proved to be fictitious.

Later these amounts were not only transferred into the accounts of Omni Group, a bank official and the Zardari Group’s accounts but personal expenses of important persons of the political party were also paid from them, the sources alleged. These included expenses for foreign travel and purchase of luxury vehicles. However these investigations were put on the backburner for unknown reasons.

SC gives JIT till Dec 19 to submit final report in fake accounts case

In December 2017, the investigations were opened once again and the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) that investigates money laundering issued a report of suspicious transactions. The FIA formally started its investigations afterwards.

In July, the Supreme Court took suo motu notice of slow progress in the investigations. The FIA registered a case of money laundering on July 6 and arrested former chief of Summit Bank Hussain Lawai and senior banker Taha Raza. Later Anwar Majeed and his son AG Majeed of the Omni Group were also arrested. The FIA told the SC that money laundering of Rs37 billion had been done through 29 bank accounts of seven companies.

The FIA prepared lists of big contracting firms associated with the Sindh government  which had transferred billions of rupees into the accounts, the fictitious companies in whose names the accounts were opened and the influential people and groups that received money from these companies.

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