ISLAMABAD   -   Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar has said the apex court will not allow any delay in the matter of alleged money laundering through fake bank accounts.

"A thief protects his stolen money at the earliest and he cares for money more than his life but we will not let anyone take a single penny," the CJP observed on Monday.

He was heading a three-member bench hearing the case wherein Pakistan People’s Party Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and PPP leader Faryal Talpur are also named.

The strong remarks of the chief judge came as the head of the JIT probing the case informed the court that PPP-led Sindh government was not cooperating with the investigators.

The CJP decided to hear the case on October 26 in Karachi Registry and also summoned the chief secretary on the next date of hearing in Karachi along with record.

Ihsan Sadiq, who leads the Joint Investigation Team, was reporting on the progress of the investigation to the bench, of which Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Ijazul Ahsan are also members.

He revealed that the suspicious transactions of more than Rs90 billion had been unearthed.

He said the scam had become more complex due to involvement of benami companies. A vast nexus of fake accounts with these benami companies had been observed, he added.

According to Sadiq, some accounts – including those opened in the name of deceased and in the name of rickshaw drivers – are opened for a specific period of time and closed after withdrawing the amount.

The JIT head further revealed that more than Rs90 billion were transferred through fake bank accounts with the involvement of 36 benami companies and 600 persons. He added that most of the benami companies were linked with Omni Group owned by Anwar Majeed, a close aide of Asif Zardari.

He further informed the bench that not only the government departments but private financial institutions were also allegedly involved in the scam.

When the CJP asked him if the Sindh government had been cooperative in the probe, Sadiq responded that unfortunately the provincial government was not ready to cooperate while there was a cold response on JIT's letters to different departments for procuring the record.

To a bench's query, the lead investigator revealed that Sindh chief secretary, and secretaries of energy, irrigation, finance and agricultural were asked to provide record but they were yet to respond.

He further informed the bench that many persons involved in the scam had fled abroad.

Expressing his dismay, the CJP asked the provincial government to respond on Sadiq's claim.

Sindh Advocate General Salman Talibud Din apprised the bench that JIT had asked for provision of record of government contracts from 2008 to 2018.

“On our response, the JIT limited the scope and asked for provision of record of 46 companies and individuals,” he said, adding now the JIT had further limited and asked for only those contracts which exceeded from Rs100 million. “We will provide the record after compiling it,” the AG assured.

The chief justice remarked that this court would not let the matter to be delayed.

He said the case will be heard on October 26 in Karachi Registry and directed the chief secretary to appear on the next hearing along with the record demanded by the JIT.

The chief justice also hinted at taking action against the officials obstructing the investigation. He said he would consider as to what action could be taken against the officials for not cooperating in the probe.

During the hearing, the bench was also informed that Anwar Majeed was a cardiac patient and currently admitted to the hospital on suggestion of jail's doctor.

The CJP remarked that he had no confidence in medical reports prepared by doctors in Sindh and directed the Combine Military Hospital (CMH), Karachi to examine the medical reports and submit its report within a week.

"Influential accused person sits in the room of jail superintendent and spends night at his house," the CJP further observed expressing displeasure.

He also directed the Sindh IGP to appear before the court on October 26.

Counsel for National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Naeem Bokhari appeared and contended that Rs23 billion of the bank was owed to Omni Group, adding sugar mills had been sealed while the crushing season was starting from November 15. He contended that poor farmers were going to be affected.

The chief justice remarked that he was considering this aspect of the issue as well, adding the purchase of sugarcane would be done under the supervision of a law officer and payments would be made on the spot.

Anwar Majeed’s lawyer Shahid Hamid argued before the bench that as a matter of requirement of justice he should be given the copy of progress report. He further submitted that his client wanted to file his version on the progress report.

"If everything will be done one-sided then it will harm our legal right of defence," said Hamid.

However, the chief justice declined the request observing that accused person would be given the right of audience after completion of the probe.

The counsel said that his client's age was 77 years and he was diagnosed with different illnesses, adding his client was implanted a stent 20 years ago.

“The jail authorities do not cooperate in provision of medical facilities by using top court's orders as pretext,” he said.

The defence lawyer said the jail authorities had not transferred his client despite request for four hours and finally shifted him to hospital when his health condition deteriorated too much.

"I am considering shifting Anwar Majeed from Karachi to Adiyala Jail. He will be provided medical facilities 24 hours and he could be shifted to RIC or PIMS in case he suffers adverse health problem," the CJP observed.

He asked if the court did not believe in the illness of his aged client.

The chief justice remarked that why the court should believe him when he was accused of placing billions of rupees in the fake accounts. These people remain healthy when outside but become ill when go to jails, he observed.

The counsel said that his client could not be moved as per suggestion of doctors.

The chief justice remarked that he could be brought here through air ambulance.

"They are rich people. They are billionaires and trillionaires. They can live in Islamabad on rent house of 50 kanal," the chief justice said.

The counsel then pleaded before the bench to provide B Class jail to his client. He further requested to defreeze the Omni Group's account for payment of salaries to employees.

He also dissociated with the account opened in the name of the deceased.

The chief justice while declining the plea remarked that the accounts could not defreeze till the completion of investigation.

 

 

SC won’t let any thief take even a penny

 

SYED SABEEHUL HUSSNAIN