ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the advocate general of Sindh to provide by Oct 26 complete information about major development projects undertaken during the past 10 years after the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) head alleged the provincial government was not cooperating with the probe body in the fake accounts case.
Appearing before a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar in the fake accounts case, FIA’s additional director general and JIT head Ahsan Sadiq said information being provided by the Sindh government was piecemeal and not complete.
However, AG Salman Talibuddin dismissed the allegation of non-cooperation, saying it would be unkind to suggest that when the Sindh government had been collecting and providing relevant information to the JIT.
In response to a query, the JIT head told the court that the probe team had solicited information from the Sindh administration through written requests. He contended that around Rs54 billion was transferred from 36 different “Benami” companies. Of this amount, he added, Rs47 billion transactions through thousands of fake accounts had been identified. He said the JIT unearthed transactions through the fake accounts opened in the name of rickshaw drivers and vendors.
Summons top bureaucrats as JIT complains of ‘non-cooperation’ in fake accounts probe
Mr Sadiq alleged that around 600 companies and individuals were associated with the scandal. He claimed that the JIT was trying hard to reach the true beneficiary behind these fake accounts but the matter was far more complex than the fake accounts.
When Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan inquired about the fate of the accounts, the JIT head said the accounts were usually closed after the transactions. He said many provincial government officers left the country after the transactions.
While dismissing the allegation of non-cooperation, AG Talibuddin said the Sindh government was being asked by the JIT to provide complete details of each and every scheme launched by the provincial government since 2008. He said the provincial government had also been asked to provide details of 46 companies in which six individuals were awarded contracts for development works. It was very difficult to provide complete information about work done in the past decade, yet the provincial government had provided some relevant information, he contended.
The apex court, however, asked the AG to provide details of big development schemes with a direction to complete all the relevant record as the matter would be taken up again at the Karachi registry of the apex court on Oct 26.
Top bureaucrats summoned
The court also summoned the secretaries of all the relevant departments of the provincial government like chief secretary, finance, energy and the secretary of the irrigation department.
During the proceedings, the chief justice observed that he would expect that all the secretaries of the provincial governments would be available in the courtroom in Karachi with all the relevant documents needed. The CJP said the JIT had already shared a list of the required record with the court.
The court also rejected a plea for shifting of Anvar Majeed, chairman of the Omni group of companies, to a hospital and observed that only for a cardiac procedure he could be taken to the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology (RIC).
Advocate Shahid Hamid representing the group asked the court to allow B class facility to his clients in jail.
He also asked the SC to order opening of the accounts of the group which had been frozen for past several months. He insisted that those accounts were not fake.
The court observed that it was not its intention to destroy businesses. However, it would allow unfreezing of the accounts only after "development of some mechanism".
Meanwhile, the SC issued a notice to the Omni group on an application moved by the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) for the constitution of a committee to operate eight sugar mills, owned by the group, in Sindh to prevent default on payment to sugar cane farmers or banks.
Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2018
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