LAHORE - The JIT final report unearthed many benami accounts which the Sharifs allegedly used to hide and launder their ill-gotten money, and gain illegal financial benefits.

Benami or benamdar [no name] accounts are such accounts whose real beneficiary is not the one in whose name the account is operated. The apparent account holder thus serves just as a mask for the real beneficiary of the transactions.

The joint investigation team, probing financial affairs of the Sharif family as part of the Panama leaks case, in its report said that Javed Kiyani, an account holder of Habib Bank AG Zuerich (HBAZ), Lahore, assisted in opening of fictitious Foreign Currency Accounts (FCAs).

Kiyani also helped in remitting funds into these accounts and to utilise Foreign Currency available in these accounts as collateral for loans to some of the Group companies of the Sharif family, it said.

Also, the affidavit of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, given under oath in April 2000, reveals his admission about the money laundering carried out through his First Hajveri Modarba Company by means of benami accounts for the Sharif Family.

The minister confessed that he had been handling the money matters of the Sharif family and also alleged that Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shehbaz Sharif were involved in laundering of funds amounting to $14.886 million.

Naeem Mehmood, the then director of Hajveri Modarba, opened many benami accounts in different banks on the directions of Ishaq Dar.

Javed Kiyani opened fictitious FCAs (foreign current accounts) in the names of Sulman Zia, Muhammad Ramzan and Asghar Ali, besides maintaining old accounts of his own, Attia Kiyani (his wife) and Begum Mariurn Kiyani (mother) in HBAZ.

Complete documentation for opening of accounts was done by Javed Kiyani himself as verified through the report of handwriting expert, the JIT report says.

The probe team found that during 1992, Kiyani started transferring money from different accounts abroad into benami FCAs opened at HBAZ in the form of Foreign Telegraphic Transfer (FTTs), Dollar Bearer Certificates (DBC) and Traveller Cheques (TCs). Multiple interbank transfers of large amounts were carried out in order to create a cover to hide the money trail.

Foreign currency (FCY) funds, accumulated in these fictitious FCA’s/DBCs, of significant amount were issued. The issued DBCs were deposited in some of the fictitious FCAs of Qazi family.

The FCY received in these accounts was further used as collateral for loans to some of the Ittefaq Group companies.

In addition, funds from these accounts were also remitted outside Pakistan through a draft in the name of Sara Sheikh, FTT in the name of Khedivial Mail Line Agency UK, FTTs to Shamrock Consulting, London and draft in the name of Star Trading & Merine Inc. Washington.

Sara is reportedly daughter of Sheikh Saeed – a UK national and a close friend of lshaq Dar.

On 23-9-1991, an FCA of Saeed Ahmad was opened in Bank of America, Lahore Branch. Almost all funds accumulated in this account were through FTTs.

On 4-6-1992, DBCs of almost aggregate funds of $1,074,000 were issued. On the same date, the same amounts of DBCs were deposited in the newly opened account of Musa Ghani. Subsequently, various other accounts of Saeed Ahmad were also opened in different banks.

Evidence of transactions in Saeed Ahmed accounts (Al-Baraka Islamic Bank, Emirates Bank, Bank of America and A1-Towfeek Bank) has been given in the report.

The JIT also found that on 12-5-1992, an FCA of Mukhtar Hussain (a senior employee of Ittefaq Group of Companies) was opened in Bank of America, Lahore Branch.

DBCs of $1,162,000, accumulated in this account through an FTT of $861,102 and a cash deposit of $300,000, were issued on 30-6-1992.

The same amount of DBCs on the same date was deposited in the account of Talat Masud Qazi, a benamdar for the Sharifs, in the same bank.

Against marking line on these benami FCAs, credit lines (loans) worth more than Rs300 million - for Hudabiya Engineering Mill, Hudabiya Paper Mills, Chaudhry Sugar Mills, Hamza Board Mills, Hajvery Holdings and First Hajvery Modaraba - were acquired from multiple local banks during year 1991 onward.

During this period, loans were also allowed to some individuals related to Sharif family’s companies and Hajvery group of companies by marking line on deposits in these benami FCAs.

The JIT further found $350,000, which was transferred from Sulman Zia FCA to Shamrock Consulting Corporation London (presumably owned by Nawaz Sharif) having account in Llyod Bank London in three different transactions.

During 1993-95, cash amounting to $62,610 was transferred from Sulman Zia account to Star Trading & Marine Corporation Washington DC, USA (owned by Sheikh Saeed), and an amount of $150,000 was transferred from Asghar Ali account to Khedivial Mail Line Agency, UK.

In the same period, $750,000 each were transferred from accounts of Masood Qazi and Mrs Nuzat Gohar Qazi to Imran R Khan (American Express Bank, London). Moreover, $94l,590 were transferred from Sikandra Qazi, $432,148 from Ghani and $239,290 from Saeed Ahmed to Steve American Express Bank, London.

SAJID ZIA