LHC orders to quash FIR against Moonis Elahi in money laundering case

On whose direction the inquiry was initiated, Justice Ghural asks during proceedings


Rana Yasif October 03, 2022
PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi. PHOTO: PPI/ FILE

LAHORE:

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday ordered to quash the FIR registered by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi under money laundering charges.

Justice Asjad Javaid Ghural after hearing detailed arguments first reserved the decision and then announced the verdict.

As the proceedings commenced, the deputy attorney general Asad Ali Bajwa while shedding light on the important features of the case implored the court that the challan of 13,144 pages had been submitted before the court.

Following this, Moonis Elahi’s counsel Amjad Pervez argued to the court that he had citations of around fourteen (14) decisions to establish his case in favour of the accused petitioner.

On a point, Justice Ghural asked how another party could get an FIR registered if the complaint does not come from the actual party. To this, the deputy attorney general Bajwa replied that the bank in this case placed before the court is itself allegedly involved in the commission of the offence.

On whose direction the inquiry was initiated, Justice Ghural asked. Deputy attorney general Bajwa replied that with the approval of the federal government the inquiry was initiated. The matter was initiated in light of the Sugar inquiry commission.

The court asked whether the FIR had been registered after the registration of FIR against Jahangir Tareen. To which Elahi’s counsel Amjad Pervez argued the FIR against the PTI leader was registered in 2020.

Moonis Elahi’s counsel argued that there was a ban in 2007 and 2008 on establishing sugar mills but even then an allegation of establishing a sugar mill in Rahim Yar Khan was levelled.

He further argued that the then chief minister issued NOC which was twice testified by the Lahore High Court. In 2007, the allegation of money laundering was levelled in the name of employees with fewer salaries. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) probed this matter in detail for a long time but nothing was recovered to establish the case, the counsel argued.

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"When NAB found nothing, it [NAB] decided to close the reference," he added.

He argued that neither the bank nor any private person is the complainant in this FIR and nor the national exchequer bore any loss.

The case is purely based on political victimisation merely to harass and blackmail Moonis Elahi despite the fact that he has nothing to do with the case.

Justice Ghural asked when was the NOC issued for the sugar mill. The deputy attorney replied that before commenting he just wanted to say that sections relating to the banking offences apply to the case.

The reply irked Justice Ghural who said to the deputy attorney general to respond to his queries first and then speak as much as he wanted.

The deputy attorney general argued that Elahi had obtained pre-arrest bail in the matter while the FIA’s plea seeking cancellation of the bail is fixed by tomorrow.

He further questioned that the single judge bench could not hear the case and it needed a two-member bench. Justice Ghural responded by saying that a single bench could hear this matter.

The investigation officer told the court that shares were purchased and sold through fake accounts. The shares first were sent into the companies and then transferred to the Moonis Elahi’s family, the IO maintained.

Elahi’s counsel argued that NAB continued conducting inquiry for 20 years but found nothing against the petitioner accused. Neither any bank nor account holder complained against Moonis Elahi. He argued that FIA also had no evidence of corrupt practice, misuse of power and money laundering against the accused petitioner.

Petition

Moonis Elahi, in his petition, contended to the court that the money laundering case registered against him is actually a politically motivated case. He contended that it had been an unfortunate feature of the political history of Pakistan that process of law was misused as a tool by the rulers.

He and his elders and other family members were made to face charges under criminal law upon frivolous allegations from time to time, but no charge of corruption or personal gain at the expense of the national exchequer or misuse or abuse of office against them had ever sustained before any court.

Case against Moonis and others

The FIA has booked Moonis, PA secretary Bhatti, Muhammad Nawaz Bhatti, Muhammad Ali, Mazhar Abbas, Makhdoom Omar Shehryar, Tarik Jawaid and Wajid Khan Bhatti under Sections 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of a common intention), 109 (punishment for abetment), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (using a genuine forged document) of the Pakistan Penal Code, read with Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 and Section 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010 in connection with the affairs of the RYK/Alliance Sugar Mills Group.

The FIR says the no-objection certificate for setting up the mill was issued in June 2007 when Pervez Elahi was the chief minister of Punjab, thus his culpability will be determined during the investigation.

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