Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday ordered the State Bank of Pakistan to freeze 'fake' bank accounts until the time the ongoing investigation by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is complete.
The Supreme Court was hearing an application filed by lawyer Khalid Ranjha regarding the operation of the accounts under investigation.
The lawyer protested on the chief justice's order, saying that freezing the bank accounts would result in the closure of his client's company. Justice Nisar, however, dismissed this concern, saying "let the company shut down".
The FIA is investigating 29 ‘benami’ accounts that were allegedly used to channel illicit funds. Former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur are among those who are accused of being beneficiaries of the suspicious transactions, while his close aide Hussain Lawai is one of the people accused of facilitating the opening of the fake accounts.
In a surprise move earlier this month, the FIA had arrested Lawai and two other bankers that are allegedly involved in a money laundering scam of more than Rs35 billion.
Seven individuals were said to be involved in using those accounts for suspicious transactions. The accounts were allegedly used to channel funds received through kickbacks.
The apex court had earlier this month taken a suo motu notice of the 2015 probe into suspicious transactions made through 29 ‘benami’ accounts — 16 held in Summit Bank, eight in Sindh Bank and five in UBL.