Peshawar A little known offshore company is buying banks in Pakistan that has alarmed the financial circles of the country, as many fear another scam of great magnitude. The savings of millions of depositors are believed to be at great risk. Suroor Investments Limited, registered in Mauritius, has so far bought three banks in Pakistan and it is dealing with some other banks as well as banking and non-banking financial institutions for possible acquisitions. While the whole world is talking about the limping economy and dwindling political situation in Pakistan, the offshore company is demonstrating growing interest in the countrys financial sector. Recently majority shareholding in Atlas Bank Limited passed into the hands of Suroor after an agreement for sale of 58.31 per cent stake at a price of Rs 4.50 per share. Earlier, the foreign company had acquired Rs 297 million shares of Arif Habib Bank at Rs 9 per share. Suroor also bought over 59.34 per cent equity in Mybank at Rs 8 per share. The overseas investment company also holds interest in Dubai Islamic Bank. Some believe that getting shares at throwaway prices may be the result of political influence. Mr Hussain Lawai is thought to be connected to Suroor Investments. This has benefited the new owners but hurt the interests of minority shareholders. These deals have put a big question mark on the credibility of regulators, said a senior banker while requesting anonymity. Acquisitions of public institutions by a company with no history of successful business activities and listing on stock exchange anywhere in the world can result in great banking deprivation. The role of regulators like State Bank of Pakistan, Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and Competition Commission seems questionable. They are dealing with a faceless company that has no office, website or history of successful transactions. The need for integrity among regulators is felt more than ever as conduct of officials concerned is not meeting the test of legality, reasonableness and transparency. It is yet to be known that who is representing the company while dealing with regulators and financial institutions. Mystery has shrouded everything but majority say that the whole drama is being played on the behest of an influential political figure. It is worth mentioning here that the prudential regulations of SBP would not allow a party to have more than one commercial bank. Similarly, a party needs 6 billion rupees to start a small bank that jumps to minimum Rs 10 billion with other required expenses. However, there was no FDI inflow on record that indicates that these banks have been bought by employing local resources like borrowing. How can a borrower become owner of banks remains a million dollar question. It is also believed that a banker who fled the country after embezzlement of billions and was subsequently arrested by Interpol from Australia on the request of government of Pakistan is also part of the game as he has also taken benefit of NRO. The cases registered against him in CBC Karachi were not political but criminal in nature. Calls to the SBP and all the acquired banks about the real owner of these institutions went unanswered.