ISLAMABAD, Sep 05 (APP):The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday decided to constitute a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe alleged money laundering of Rs 35 billion through fictitious bank accounts.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar took the decision after hearing the arguments placed by the litigants and on the request of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General (DG) Bashir Memon.
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.
“We are forming a JIT and it will submit a progress report on the matter every 15 days,” the CJP observed.
He said the JIT would comprise of representatives from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI). Names of the JIT members would be announced later, he added.
The accused were currently being investigated by an seven-member JIT, led by FIA Additional Director General Najaf Mirza, for money laundering through 29 ‘fake’ accounts in Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and United Bank Limited.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked, “We are forming a JIT in light of THE FIA’s statement that they do not have the expertise. if the suspects are not guilty then they will get a clean chit.”
Asif Zardari’s counsel, Aitzaz Ahsan, Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed’s counsel Shahid Hamid, and FIA Director General Bashir Memon appeared before the court.
Zardari and Majeed’s counsel presented their arguments against the formation of a JIT to probe into the case.However the bench accepted the stance of FIA and constituted the team.
Shahid Hamid, counsel for Anwar Majeed, pleaded that the figure of ‘Rs 35 billion’ was exaggerated by the FIA and asked the top court to accept the Agency’s request for a JIT.
The CJP observed that they were developing a new jurisprudence wherein an agency lacking expertise could seek assistance from others.
When Justice Nisar questioned as to why the defence lawyers were shying from the constitution of a JIT, Aitzaz Ahsan said the top court ‘generally’ did not intervene in matters where a challan had been submitted in a trial court after the registration of a first information report.
The chief justice then said, “Instead of the earlier investigation, we should form a JIT to probe into the matter. It is a matter of Rs 35 billion, we want a transparent investigation.”
It was the nation’s right that its looted money should be brought back and that was why they would form a JIT for further investigation, he observed.