As the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday resumed hearing of a case pertaining to money laundering through fake bank accounts, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) told the court that 15 more accounts linked to a suspicious account in Summit Bank had been uncovered during its investigation.
Earlier, the FIA in its probe had unearthed an account flagged in a Suspicious Transaction Report titled A-One International maintained at the Summit Bank Khayaban-i-Tanzeem branch in Karachi, which it said was used for suspicious transfers of Rs4.14 billion in accounts of various companies.
FIA Director General Bashir Memon told the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar that the accounts linked to A-One had transferred funds amounting to Rs6bn.
Among the 15 newly uncovered accounts were one belonging to a graphic designer and one in the name of a Careem motorcycle driver's wife in Lahore, Memon said.
The graphics designer who worked at a private channel had a salary of Rs35,000, which raised questions over the presence of Rs800 million in his account, the DG FIA said, adding that the woman's account showed transfers of Rs1.5bn.
The DG FIA told the court that he believed the funds were bribes, a statement rubbished by defence counsel Ayesha Hamid, who claimed that the accusations were part of a media trial.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial also wondered how accusations of bribery could be levelled before an investigation was concluded, adding that the court treats everyone equally.
The court also questioned the Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) Amjad Saleemi about the matter of alleged harassment of witnesses by police officials which was brought to light in an earlier hearing.
The IGP had earlier sought an explanation from the DIG South and other senior officers after a Summit Bank employee told the court that although the case was being investigated by the FIA, it was the police who had "made her life miserable".
She said that she had been fired from her job, and that police raided her home. She also alleged that she had been pressured by someone to provide a false statement in court.
Subsequently, the court ordered the transfer of Additional Inspector General (AIG) Karachi Mushtaq Mahar. The IGP today reported the transfer of the AIG to the bench, along with the transfer of Senior Superintendent Police East Nauman Siddiqui.
Saleemi told the court that the harassment of witnesses by police had been proved, and that there was something suspicious about the matter.
"IG sahab, tell us what is suspicious about the matter?" the CJP asked.
The top judge remarked that since the court had taken up the case, "they" had started taking action against those associated with the case with no regard for what is right and what is wrong.
"Instead of telling the truth, they are now after us," the CJP said, without specifying who "they" are.
"God and the people will protect us. Those who speak out against us don't know, maybe tomorrow fingers will be pointed at them."
The CJP asked the IGP to find out "who is the minister-to-be at whose behest all this is being done", and added that contempt notices would be issued against all police officers who had harassed witnesses.
The top judge also ordered that all witnesses be given protection, and that if any witnesses were harassed, the witnesses would call the Supreme Court.
"Instead of calling and harassing the witnesses, 'they' now call us," the CJP claimed.
The court ordered that all witnesses’ accounts be recorded and a report should be presented in court by September.
Justice Nisar also noted the absence of Omni Group Chairman Anwar Majeed. The chairman's counsel had told the court in the last hearing that his client was receiving medical treatment in London, at which the court had ordered that Majeed be present in court on Aug 13.
The CJP said that instead of Majeed being present in court today, a different lawyer was present. The court subsequently rejected the Majeed family’s notice of absence, with Justice Nisar wondering whether the family should be issued a notice for contempt of court.
He summoned the Majeed family to be present in court, even if it was at 8pm today. "We will reopen the court for them," he said.
The CJP asked if the lawyers were worried that their client would be arrested. He said that if the FIA had attached the Omni Group's bank accounts and properties, then the court would also order the same.
Omni Group lawyer Shahid Hamid asked for time so that Majeed could be produced in court, adding that the family would be present on Wednesday. The CJP rejected the request for more time.
Shahid Hamid also told the court that the FIA JIT in its 60-page-long report had found no evidence of the bribery and corruption alleged by Bashir Memon, and claimed that all the Omni Group's money was clean and had been audited.
The CJP, who had in the last hearing suggested a 'Panama-style' JIT to probe the case, today suggested that the members of the Panamagate JIT be included in the new JIT.
A new JIT was requested by former president Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur due to their reservations against the FIA's Najaf Mirza ─ whom Zardari earlier filed a case against ─ and Bashir Memon, who Zardari accuses of holding a grudge against the PPP.
Justice Nisar said that the fresh JIT could be led by FIA Additional Director General Wajid Zia and the Panamagate team. He observed that the Military Intelligence officials who were included in the Panama Papers JIT could have been added "as seasoning [tarka]" to the probe.
He said that the court would form the probe team after listening to the lawyers' arguments in the case.
Barrister Farooq H. Naek, Zardari and Talpur's counsel told the court that the PPP has always respected the judiciary.
The CJP asked whether Zardari and Talpur had been cooperating with the investigation, to which Naek replied that they would appear in court whenever they were called.
CJP Nisar summoned Anwar Majeed to court on Wednesday and adjourned the case until then.