Top court orders Bilawal, Shah’s names off ECL

Judgment in money laundering suo motu case refers JIT report to NAB


Hasnaat Malik January 17, 2019
Supreme Court of Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday referred the joint investigation team’s (JIT) report on alleged Rs42 billion fake bank accounts scam to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) with orders for the investigation and trial of all the accused in Islamabad/Rawalpindi.

In the detailed judgment, authored by Justice Ijazul Ahsan, the court said that the complete JIT report and all the material collected by the team “shall be transmitted to the NAB immediately". The 24-page written order also asked for completing the investigation within two months.

The court directed the NAB chairman to nominate a director general to prepare the references. Likewise, a special, competent prosecution team should be appointed to pursue the cases for “conclusion of the trial in a timely manner”, it added.

The JIT will continue investigation into the incomplete matters and present the report to the anti-corruption body. The verdict directs the JIT members to assist in the investigation.

NAB has been directed to present its 15-day investigation report before the Supreme Court, which will be reviewed by the implementation bench of the apex court to be constituted by the chief justice of Pakistan, the judgment said.

Decision to remove Bilawal, Murad’s names from ECL to be made after SC judgement: Qureshi

Surprisingly, names of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairmain Bilwal Bhutto Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Muraf Ali Shah have not been excluded from the JIT report. The judgment orders removal of their names from the Exit Control List (ECL).

The ruling said that NAB would be free to initiate probe against them. If it is considered essential after findings of the inquiry, “then their names can be placed on ECL”, it added.

Last week, the Supreme Court had ordered NAB to initiate a fresh inquiry into the mega money laundering and fake bank accounts case.

A three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar and including Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, while hearing the suo motu case, ordered that Bilawal and Murad Ali Shah’s names be excluded from the ECL.

The bench directed NAB to conduct fresh investigation against the persons against whom the JIT has recommended further inquiry and if the offence is made out, file references against them. The bench asked NAB to complete the investigation within two months.

The case pertained to the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) probe into money laundering worth billions of rupees through over 20 ‘benami’ bank accounts, which were opened in 2013, 2014 and 2015, according to reports.

The FIA is investigating 32 people, including former president Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur. Zardari’s aide Hussain Lawai was arrested in July in connection with the investigation. His other close aide, Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed, was arrested along with his son Abdul Ghani by the FIA in August.

COMMENTS (1)

zafar | 2 years ago | Reply if their name is in JIT they should be on ECL, PPP history is not good on this, they escape abroad including Zardari when it suits them SC has made an error.
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