Moonis Elahi gets interim bail till July 4 in money laundering case

Published June 22, 2022
PML-Q leader and former federal minister Moonis Elahi (R) photographed while leaving a banking court in Lahore after attending a hearing in a money laundering case. — Photo by author
PML-Q leader and former federal minister Moonis Elahi (R) photographed while leaving a banking court in Lahore after attending a hearing in a money laundering case. — Photo by author

A banking court in Lahore granted interim bail to PML-Q leader and former federal minister Moonis Elahi in a money laundering case till July 4, barring the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from arresting him until then.

The FIA had booked Elahi and seven others on charges of money laundering in a case pertaining to a sugar scam on June 14.

He filed a bail application in a banking court today, and the plea was taken up by Judge Aslam Gondal.

Advocates Amjad Pervaiz and Amir Saeed Rawn represented Elahi at the hearing.

The petition

In his bail petition, Elahi maintained that the money laundering case had been registered against him to "politically victimise" him.

The petition, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, stated that "it is [an] unfortunate feature of the political history of Pakistan inherited from colonial rule that [the] process of law has been misused as a tool of political victimsation.

"Petitioner and his elders had also been victim[s] of misuse of law by various regimes."

The petition further stated that Moonis, his elders and other family members "were made to face charges under criminal law upon frivolous allegations from time to time, but no charge of corruption or personal gain at the expense of the national exchequer or misuse or abuse of office against them had ever sustained before any court.

This case too, the petition added, had been registered at the behest of the government to "politically victimise the petitioner and his family again on the allegation of assets beyond means".

Elahi maintained in the petition that he was innocent and the registration of the case and the following proceedings against him were "prompted by mala fide intention and considerations extraneous to law".

"Indeed the proceedings have been initiated to harass and blackmail the petitioner and his family so as to muffle their voice against the government of the day," the petition stated.

It further said that viewing the proceedings against Elahi in the backdrop of the "ongoing political crisis" in Punjab showed that "the motive behind it is political engineering, character assassination and media trial of the petitioner and his family upon the basis of false allegations".

Terming the first information report against Elahi "illegal and without lawful authority", the petition said the case had no connection with matters concerning the federal government. And as such, the FIA "does not have the jurisdiction to proceed in such matters".

In this connection, the petition also stated that none of the persons nominated in the FIR had been a public servant in the services of the federal government, or served as an employee of a body controlled by the federal government.

Moreover, the petition highlighted that the case against Elahi was registered without him being summoned or sent a notice after the completion of the inquiry.

This, the petition said, "smacks volumes of mala fide".

The petition also underlined the delay in the registration of the case, stating that the FIR showed the date of the alleged occurrences between 2007 and 2020, but the case was registered in 2022.

"No explanation ... is available on record for this delay," it said.

The petition further stated that the "prosecution's story proceeds upon surmises and conjectures ... [and] based upon general, vague, bald and baseless allegations not supported by any evidence worth name on record".

In the petition, Elahi also contended that the no evidence on record proved an offence that could be registered under the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010 and other sections of the Pakistan Penal Code cited in FIR.

The petition explained that all of the evidence submitted by the prosecution was documentary in nature and could not be tampered with in case Elahi was granted bail.

It also ruled out the possibility of Elahi absconding, highlighting that he came from a respectable family and owned valuable property in the country.

Moreover, the petition said, Elahi, being a member of the National Assembly, would face "unsurmountable and extreme hardship in [the] performance" of his duties if he was arrested.

"The petitioner joined the investigation on his own, he is appearing as and when required and furnishing whatever information is sought," the petition said, adding that "it is since settled law that power to arrest is permissive and not obligatory".

"In this view of the matter, his arrest shall not serve any purpose, rather, same shall tantamount to punishment before trial," the petition concluded.

On these grounds, Elahi prayed the court for pre-arrest bail, as well as interim bail.

The case

The FIA has booked Moonis, PA secretary Bhatti, Muhammad Nawaz Bhatti, Muhammad Ali, Mazhar Abbas, Makhdoom Omar Shehryar, Tarik Jawaid and Wajid Khan Bhatti under Sections 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of a common intention), 109 (punishment for abetment), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (using a genuine forged document) of the Pakistan Penal Code, read with Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 and Section 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010 in connection with the affairs of the RYK/Alliance Sugar Mills Group.

The FIR says the no-objection certificate for setting up the mills was issued in June 2007 when Parvez Elahi was the chief minister of Punjab, thus his “culpability will be determined during the investigation”.

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