The Supreme Court has directed the interior ministry to place the names of former president Asif Ali Zardari and PPP leader Faryal Talpur on the Exit Control List (ECL), DawnNewsTV reported on Monday quoting Attorney General Khalid Javed.

The directives were issued by the apex court in connection with an ongoing suo motu case concerning an investigation into fake accounts and fictitious transactions worth billions conducted through several mainstream banks. The fake accounts were allegedly used for channeling funds received through heavy bribes and kickbacks.

On Monday, Dawn had reported that the SC had ordered the names of presidents and chief executive officers of three banks allegedly involved in the suspicious transactions — reported to be to the tune of Rs35 billion — placed on the ECL.

It emerged today that the apex court had also ordered the interior ministry to place the names of all beneficiaries and accused persons identified in the case on the ECL, “so that they may not leave the country until the investigation in the matter is concluded or till further orders passed by this court”.

According to an ongoing Federal Investigation Agency investigation, the beneficiaries include PPP leader Zardari and his sister, Faryal Talpur.

Talking to DawnNewsTV on Monday evening, Attorney General Javed confirmed the development.

But though the AG confirmed that directives to this effect had been received, some confusion persisted till late evening over whether the interior ministry had actually taken the decision to place the two on the ECL.

Geo News and The Express Tribune had earlier in the day quoted interior ministry officials denying the reports.

Geo had quoted the interior secretary as saying that: “We have not issued any instructions to bar Zardari and Talpur from leaving the country.”

“We will look into the matter after orders from the court,” Geo had quoted him as saying.

However, a later report quoted unnamed sources as saying that the brother-sister duo had been barred from leaving the country for thirty days after being placed on the Provisional National Identification List.

Well-planned conspiracy

The FIA chief had earlier told the court that the inquiry into the suspicious transactions was initiated in 2015 on a source report and, as a result, 29 ‘benami’ accounts were identified. Of these, 16 were in Summit Bank, eight in Sindh Bank and five in UBL. Seven individuals were involved in suspicious transactions of Rs35bn, he added.

The FIA chief had also complained that the bankers were not providing required records to the agency.

According to the FIA DG, the investigation had revealed that Kiran Aman, the then operations manager of Summit Bank, had admitted and verified forged signatures of an account holder as genuine with mala fide intention.

Noreen Sultan, the then relations manager of the bank, had also admitted the forged signature of an account holder on an annexure for change of signature from the one found on the account holder's CNIC.

Adeel Shah Rashidi, the then branch manager of the bank, had also admitted to deliberately signing documents to approve the account, even though the bank's record showed that the account had, in fact, belonged to the allegedly Zardari-linked Omni Group.

Rashidi had later disclosed that the documents had been sent to the corporate department of the bank for approval and Taha Raza, the corporate unit head of the Summit Bank, had sent back the documents with remarks “referred by Hussain Lawai” with a directive to open the account.

Hence, it was established that the bankers had fraudulently opened fake/forged accounts fulfilling the codal formalities, the FIA DG said.

Lawai, a close aide to Mr Zardari and Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman, and Raza have already been arrested by the FIA.

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