ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court (SC) while issuing written order in alleged money laundering of Rs35 billion through fictitious bank accounts formed a six members Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to make deep and incisive investigation.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heard the case on Wednesday and issued its written detailed order on Thursday.
The JIT members would be comprising of Ahsan Sadiq, Additional Director General (Economic Crime Wing), FIA, Imran Latif Minhas, Commissioner-IR (Corporate Zone), Regional Tax Office, Majid Hussain, Joint Director BID-I, State Bank of Pakistan, Noman Aslam, Director, National Accountability Bureau, Muhammad Afzal, Director, Specialized Companies Division, Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan, and Brigadier Shahid Parvez of Inter-Services Intelligence.
The Additional Director General, FIA, who shall head the JIT may co-opt any other expert who may in his opinion be necessary to complete the investigation in an effective and timely manner, judgment read.
The verdict stated that first report of the JIT shall be filed within a period of 15 days from today.
In order to ensure that the investigation is conducted in a professional, transparent and effective manner, neither the JIT nor FIA nor any of the Members of the JIT shall issue press releases or provide information relating to the investigation to the media.
Further, owing to the apprehensions about the safety of the investigators expressed by DG, FIA, in the first instance, we direct Pakistan Rangers to provide adequate and effective security to the investigators and to ensure that they perform their functions without any fear to their life or liberty or that of their families. Such protection shall also upon request be provided to the witnesses, judgment added.
It stated that many persons have appeared before supreme court and have categorically stated that they have no knowledge of the accounts in question. Some of them have also complained of systematic harassment and prayed for protection.
There is no denial of the fact that huge sums of money running into billions have been deposited in the said accounts by or on behalf of the persons who are under investigation or entities controlled by them.
After being deposited in the said accounts, such funds have either been routed to other accounts which are traceable with some due diligence or withdrawn without any ostensible trail available,
Evidence of large sum of foreign exchange being routed out of Pakistan through hawala transfers by one of the arrested suspects has added an additional dimension to the investigation. Further, the court find that specialized knowledge of financial transactions and expertise in identifying and tracing movement of funds through banking channels and otherwise is required, in order to conduct a proper probe and investigation in the matter.
Former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, Omni group’s owner Anwar Majeed and his sons, former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Hussain Lawai and Summit Bank Senior Vice-President Taha Raza and others are accused in the case.
The FIA is investigating 32 people in relation to money laundering from fictitious accounts, including Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur. Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai was arrested last month in connection with the probe.