Malik Riaz to appear before Supreme Court in fake accounts case

Updated December 29, 2018

Email

Property tycoon and Bahria Town CEO Malik Riaz's name has appeared in a JIT report submitted to Supreme Court. — File photo
Property tycoon and Bahria Town CEO Malik Riaz's name has appeared in a JIT report submitted to Supreme Court. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Malik Riaz Hussain and his son-in-law Zain Malik of the Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd are expected to appear before a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court when it resumes hearing in the Rs35 billion fake accounts case on Monday.

The bench comprising Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan will hear the case initiated on a suo motu notice.

At the last hearing in Lahore, the apex court had ordered both Malik Riaz and Zain Malik to personally appear before it at the next hearing.

The names of Malik Riaz and Zain Malik surfaced in the report furnished before the SC by a joint investigation team (JIT) constituted by the court to probe the fake accounts case.

In its report, the JIT had accused the Bahria Town Karachi of using kickbacks for grabbing state land in Bagh Ibn-i-Qasim for the Bahria Icon Towers project as well as Pakistan Steel Mills land.

Apex court will resume hearing on Monday

The JIT report stated that kickbacks were used for acquiring state land and bribe/proceeds from the forcible low-cost acquisition of private lands were laundered using fake accounts.

The report explained that examination of the fake accounts revealed a huge deposit of Rs10.02bn directly into the fake accounts and that the Bahria Town emerged as a big beneficiary by grabbing thousands of acres of prime urban state as well as private lands for its projects in Karachi against which it paid huge kickbacks.

Similarly, the JIT report discovered during the scrutiny of the fake accounts of Umair Associates that Rs31.95 million had been deposited on July 17, 2014 and Sept 1, 2014 through 40 bearer cheques issued by one Amanullah Memon.

It was found that 562 acres of state land, including 362 acres of Pakistan Steel Mills land, had been illegally allotted to private builders, causing a loss of Rs4.14bn to the national exchequer, the report said.

When Zain Malik, CEO of the Bahria Icon Towers project, was asked about the deposit of Rs10.02bn in fake accounts operated by the Omni Group, the JIT came across similar criminalities as witnessed in other dealings in the projects, like the Bahria Icon Towers — Pakistan’s tallest 102-storey tower under construction on the land of Galaxy Construction Pvt Ltd — as well as precious Bagh Ibn-i-Qasim land. In these cases, land grabbing and money laundering had become very evident, the report said.

‘Zardari’s frontman’

Explaining further, the JIT report stated that the Bahria Icon Towers project was being constructed on the 9,436 square-yard Clifton quarter, adjacent to Bagh Ibn-i-Qasim Karachi. These plots belonged to Saleem Akhtar of Galaxy Construction, allegedly a frontman of Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.

Saleem Akhtar has left the country and the shareholding of Galaxy Construction has been transferred to Dr Dinshaw Hoshang Anklesaria.

And to undertake the construction of the Bahria Icon Towers project, a joint venture (JV) was signed between Galaxy Construction and Bahria Town whereas additional state land was fraudulently misappropriated and amalgamated with the plots where the icon towers are being built, the report said.

Zain Malik admitted before the JIT that the deal between Dr Anklesaria and Galaxy Construction was merely a paperwork. However, Dr Anklesaria had given three applications to the Sindh chief minister for allotment of an amenity plot adjacent to the land where the towers were being constructed.

This alleged grabbing of state land in favour of Galaxy Construction was supervised through the administrative control over the Board and Revenue Sindh and other local authorities. A gratis award of 7,900 square yards was added to Galaxy Construction out of the land of Bagh Ibn-i-Qasim, the report said, adding that the original plots measuring 9,436 square yards swelled to almost double the original size to allow the construction of the Bahria Icon project.

Such a blatant land grabbing in tandem with different authorities of the Sindh government, including the chief minister, was not possible unless the beneficiary was a very influential person whose personal stakes were involved, the report alleged, adding that the Sindh government did not do it for Dr Anklesaria whom the Bahria Icon’s CEO treated as a mere paperwork or dummy.

The land where the icon towers were being constructed had been identified to be held as “benami” of Mr Zardari through Galaxy Construction in the name of Mr Zardari’s then frontman Saleem Akhtar in 1998, the report claimed, adding that today this property was again allegedly being held by Mr Zardari through Galaxy Construction in the name of his present frontman Dr Anklesaria.

The report summed up by stating that the Bahria Icon project clearly showed that Dr Anklesaria was mere frontman of Mr Zardari and it was Mr Zardari who had been the beneficial recipient of kickbacks from the Bahria Town into fake accounts amounting to Rs10.02bn against the total institutional collusion of government departments of Sindh in favour of the Bahria Town to build a real estate empire in Karachi.

According to the JIT report, it had also been established that apart from the Omni Group, Mr Zardari was also the ultimate beneficiary of the fake accounts in real terms.

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2018