Banking court verdict: Con artist’s property to be auctioned in Islamabad

Alleged former media adviser Rasool quickly disassociates himself from the PM.


Faisal Shakeel January 28, 2012

ISLAMABAD:


A Rawalpindi banking judge on Friday ordered the property of the now infamous swindler Khurram Rasool Butt, whose arrest was allegedly being blocked by the prime minister’s Principal Secretary Khushnood Lashari, in Islamabad be auctioned within a month.


Rasool, who was arrested late last night on Thursday for multiple charges of fraud by the Federal Investigation Agency, (FIA) was produced before the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday. The banking court verdict was given for a fraud case in which Rasool had obtained a loan of Rs70 million from the bank using fake documents.

The alleged former media adviser of the prime minister, who had been accused of conning businessmen into investing millions under the pretext of having close relations with the prime minister, was quick to disassociate himself from the prime minister in the wake of allegations of fraud. Rasool denied that he had been working as a media adviser to the prime minister when he struck the deal with the petitioners. The petitioners claim at least two former directors general of the FIA were influenced by Lashari against arresting Rasool.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is hearing a petition for the arrest of Rasool, who has evaded the FIA for the past eleven months.

Rasool was produced before the bench hand-cuffed.

“I surrendered to the agency last night at the Sohawa Bridge. The FIA is making it look like as if they arrested me,” he said.

Justice Khilji Arif Hussain wondered why the FIA was bent upon claiming the credit for arresting Rasool. Rasool went on to state that he had been in hiding because the petitioners had been harassing him even though he had returned a major chunk of the money in dispute.

Advocate Rasheed A Razvi said that the four cheques the accused presented to his clients — Pervaiz Hussain and Sameer Hussain—could not be deposited as the accused had no money in his account.

Razvi informed the court that the accused was being protected by certain influential officeholders, who also restricted the FIA from arresting the accused in violation of the court order. Rizvi said that Rasool was involved in cheating two companies – Sahara Gas (pvt) Limited and Pak Delta Enterprises (pvt) Limited – of Rs 630 million and had deluded them into signing fake agreements for LPG and licence for export of oil to Nato forces in Afghanistan.

However, Rasool had his fingers in more than just one pie during his short stint as a government official. A Rawalpindi accountability court sentenced Butt to four years of imprisonment after declaring him an absconder in an Rs71 million bank fraud case. FIA Director Ghani Khan informed the court that there was another case registered against Khurram on January 26, 2012.

The court has not wrapped up the proceedings entirely as January 10 was slated for hearing the DG FIA’s reasons for not arresting Rasool despite the orders of the Islamabad High Court. The court has ordered him to ensure his presence before the court on the next date of hearing.

In response to a court query, Rizvi said the FIA registered an FIR against Rasool on the complaint of former principal secretary Nargis Sethi because it did not mention prime minister. The petitioners’ application for registration was turned down initially as it contained the name of the prime minister.

Although the FIA authorities were required to record statements of Sethi and the petitioners, the FIA succeeded in recording the latter’s statement under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The bench ordered the FIA to protect these statements in view of the allegations involving the prime minister’s office in blocking Butt’s arrest.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2012.

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