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Fake accounts case transferred to Rawalpindi NAB

News Desk |

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Javed Iqbal on Monday, 21st January, came to the decision to transfer the fake accounts case against PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Murad Ali Shah to the corruption watchdog’s Rawalpindi Bureau and in effect, references pertaining to the case will be lodged in the accountability courts in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

According to sources quoted by the local press, NAB Rawalpindi’s Director General Irfan Naeem Mangi, who was a member of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed to probe into Panama Papers leak case against former premier Nawaz Sharif, will be conducting investigations into the case.

Besides the Zardari family, several prominent individuals including former Summit Bank president Hussain Lawai and Omni Group president Anwar Majeed, have been accused in the case.

The bureau will lodge reference against Zardari, his sister Talpur, Murad, real estate tycoon Malik Riaz and other influential people after investigations are concluded. The JIT in its report has accused 172 people of having fake bank accounts and indulging in money laundering, following which their names were placed on the Exit Control List (ECL).

However, Bilawal and Murad Ali Shah’s names have been removed from the no-fly list after the Supreme Court orders. According to the Supreme Court’s order, over 170 accused including Asif Zardari, Faryal Talpur and Malik Riaz will continue to remain on the ECL.

Read more: NAB: The only casualty in ‘war of words’

Earlier on December 24, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), formed on the apex court’s orders to probe into the alleged money-laundering case, presented its 128-page final report to the court which included recommendations for filing 16 NAB references.

The report had mentioned that 29 fake accounts were identified by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) which laundered Rs42 billion, however, the team further discovered 11,500 bank accounts of 924 account holders, 59 Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) and 24,500 Cash Transactions Reports (CTRs). All of these details were scrutinized, besides the loan profile of 924 individuals.

The report further stated that the fake accounts were opened through the Omni Group, however, the accounts had been engaged with direct transactions with the Zardari Group, Bahria Town, Sindh Government departments and certain contractors while the ultimate beneficiary of money laundering was Zardari’s family.

“The amount translates into Rs 700 billion,” he said, adding that further details of all Iqama holders were being collected with the help of Dubai authorities as well as the local mechanism.

Later, the court had ordered Zardari to submit his reply by December 31, however, during the previous hearing extended his and his sister s interim bail till January 7. On September 6, the SC had formed a JIT to probe into alleged mega money laundering of Rs42 billion channeled through fake bank accounts in three banks. Besides the Zardari family, several prominent individuals including former Summit Bank president Hussain Lawai and Omni Group president Anwar Majeed, have been accused in the case.

In November 2018, representing the government of Pakistan’s accountability front, Barrister Shahzad Akbar said that the government has identified more than 5,000 fake accounts which were allegedly used for money laundering, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Barrister Shahzad Akbar said addressing a press conference.

Read more: More than 5000 fake accounts detected: PM’s special assistant

Shahzad Akbar was accompanied by Senator Faisal Javed and Adviser to PM Iftikhar Durrani. The Special Assistant had held the press conference to brief the media on the progress made by the assets recovering unit, a joint platform of officials from the State Bank of Pakistan, the Federal Board of Revenue and other investigation agencies to bring back illegal money stashed overseas.

Barrister Shahzad Akbar told the media that assets worth $5.3 billion were made in Dubai alone through alleged money laundering. “The amount translates into Rs 700 billion,” he said, adding that further details of all Iqama holders were being collected with the help of Dubai authorities as well as the local mechanism. He said that there are two types of iqamas (work permits) obtained by the people of Pakistan.

Read more: Fake accounts case: JIT questions Bilawal Bhutto

One is obtained by genuine workers, salesmen, legal advisers, and others, who send the bulk of their money back to Pakistan and it is added to our economy. He said that Rs7.4 billion was recorded as remittances in the first quarter of the PTI government, which is 20 to 25% higher than the previous quarter.