Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday said that criminal proceedings should be initiated in the money laundering case that is being heard in the apex court.
A three-member bench, headed by CJP Nisar, was hearing the case against various Omni Group officials, including Anwar Majeed and his son Abdul Ghani Majeed. Anwar, a close aide to former president Asif Ali Zardari, and his son were arrested and booked by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in August in the case pertaining to alleged money laundering of Rs4.14 billion through 29 ‘fake’ bank accounts.
In the hearing today, Justice Nisar ordered the authorities to produce Abdul Ghani before the court in the next hearing, saying the accused should be transferred to Adiala Jail because he was still "giving orders over the phone".
The CJP also summoned senior officials of banks that claim to have loaned billions of rupees to Omni Group to appear before court for the next hearing that will be held on Nov 17 in the SC Lahore Registry.
The banks, including the National Bank of Pakistan, Silk Bank Private Limited and others, had filed criminal applications under Section 201(a) of the Financial Institutions (Recovery of Finances) Ordinance, 2001 seeking action against the CEOs/directors of sugar mills — that are allegedly owned by the Omni Group — accusing them of pilferage of the sugar stocks pledged to them against bank loans obtained by them.
The chief justice asked the head of the joint investigation team (JIT) that has been formed to investigate the case when the team will be able to submit its final report. Ahsan Sadiq, head of the JIT, asked the court for another month. However, he was told to submit a final report within two weeks.
The FIA submitted a report on the missing stocks of sugar that were pledged against the loans borrowed by the Omni Group that said the group was in a debt of Rs13.5 billion. It further said that the banks, which had given loans to the Omni Group, suffered a loss of almost Rs11.5bn.
According to the report, about 6,692,920 bags of sugar that had been pledged against the loans were missing. Only 833,889 bags of sugar could be found, the report said. The JIT had taken over the records of the mills and was analysing it.
Nimr Majeed, son of Omni Group Chairman Anwar Majeed, also appeared before the court today. He expressed ignorance regarding the pilferage of the stocks that were shown by the Omni Group against loans obtained from different banks.
Justice Nisar remarked that he had allowed Nimr to stay out of jail so he can sort out matters between banks and Omni Group. The CJP further said that maybe Nimr should be sent to jail. Nimr, at hearing this, felt unwell after which he sat down on the lawyers' bench and was given water to drink.
The court issued a notice to Sindh Inspector General of Police Syed Kaleem Imam regarding the alleged kidnapping of two witnesses of the case.
Fake accounts case
In July, the FIA had detained former chairman of the Pakistan Stock Exchange Hussain Lawai and banker Taha Raza, and booked them for allegedly facilitating the opening of the 29 ‘fake’ accounts through which suspicious transactions were made to different companies, including M/s Zardari Group.
It claimed that 29 ‘fake’ accounts in Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and United Bank Limited, were allegedly used for making suspicious transactions to bank accounts of different personalities and entities.
The prosecution said one fake bank account titled M/s A-One International opened in the name of Tariq Sultan at the Summit Bank’s Khayaban-i-Tanzeem branch was allegedly used for money laundering, as the account statement showed that during a short span of 10 months (from March 6, 2014 to Jan 12, 2015) a sum of Rs4.145bn was credited and routed through an account.
The said amount was transferred to 13 different business entities and individuals, including the Zardari Group — a company owned by Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur — which received Rs15 million. The list of the beneficiaries included the names of Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, Abdul Ghani Majeed, Shahzad Ali, Zain Malik and 15 others.
Most recently, the JIT submitted a progress report to the top court in October, which revealed that transactions of Rs54 billion were made through 107 fake bank accounts.