Money laundering case: court orders FIA to declare absconders as proclaimed offenders

KARACHI: A banking court hearing a multi-billion rupee money laundering case with many high profile political personalities, industrialists and businessmen on Thursday ordered authorities to declare five absconding suspects proclaimed offenders.

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As the court resumed hearing the case today, it ordered the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) to place posters of the proclaimed offenders in public places.

Further, the judge also issued directives to collect asset details of the offenders.

During yesterday’s proceedings, the banking court had sought the Supreme Court’s (SC) advice on Omni Group’s plea to unfreeze its account.

The petition was filed in relation to a money laundering case against Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur. The former’s close aide and Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed and his son, Abdul Ghani, are also accused in the case.

The conglomerate had moved the court to unfreeze 19 of its accounts that were frozen at the Supreme Court’s behest. Requesting the top court to issue its advice on the petition, the banking court ruled against announcing its verdict until it receives the SC’s orders.

The case was initially registered in 2015 against former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Hussain Lawai, who is widely believed to be close to former president Zardari.

Later, seven individuals, including Zardari and Talpur, were said to have been found involved in using those accounts for suspicious transactions which totaled Rs35 billion. The accounts were allegedly used to channel funds received through kickbacks.

Last month, Lawai and banker Taha Raza were detained and booked for allegedly facilitating the opening of 29 ‘fake’ accounts through which suspicious transactions were made to different companies, including M/s Zardari Group.

Talpur had also obtained an interim pre-arrest bail in the case in the sum of Rs2 million.

Both the siblings are facing corruption charges relating to fake accounts and fictitious bank transactions worth Rs35 billion. Both Zardari and Talpur face allegations that they had illegally channelled funds through the said accounts in connivance with the chief executive officers of major banks.

In August, the siblings had also appeared before a joint investigation team of the FIA in Islamabad to record their statement in the multi-billion rupee money laundering and fake bank accounts case open against them.

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