SC directs govt to remove Bilawal & Murad from ECL and JIT’s report

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ISLAMABAD: Granting two months to top anti-graft body for investigation in fake bank account on Monday the Supreme Court asked government to remove names of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah from Exit Control List (ECL) and from Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report in fictitious bank account matter.

During adjudication of a suo moto notice in fake bank accounts, a three-member bench of the Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar also asked National Accountability Bureau that it may use findings of the JIT report in the matter as basic information while probing the case. Besides the Bureau has also been communicated that a fresh inquiry may be initiated against Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Syed Murad Ali Shah, if required.

Supreme Court had formed the JIT under an additional director of the Federal Investigation Agency to ascertain facts in response to a suo moto notice over fake bank accounts that surfaced names of 172 individuals including political figures.

It was a turning point in the case during last week when a three-member bench of the Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar expressed dismay over the additional director of the FIA, head of the JIT that under what authority he recommended to federal cabinet for inclusion of 172 individuals names in no-fly list.

Consequently, the Chief Justice asked federal cabinet to review the names of 172 individuals including Syed Murad Ali Shah and others, however, in its next meeting the federal cabinet formed a review committee in the matter which would be convened during the current week.

It is worth mentioning that former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, former president of Summit Bank Hussain Lawai and Omni Group’s Anwar Majeed, were all nominated in the case. Property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain, his son-in-law Zain have also been included in the probe.

During the course of proceedings, reprimanding prosecutor, the Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar observed as to why government had decided to place Bilawal Bhutto Zardari name on the no-fly list after the JIT recommended the placement of 172 people named in its report on the ECL, the CJP observed should it be presumed that Bilawal name was included upon someone directives or the reason was to defame someone.

Subsequently, the court ordered the removal of Bilawal and Shah’s names from the ECL and JIT report, and sent the case to NAB, directing it to conclude its investigation within two months.

It is worth mentioning that earlier the JIT report disclosed that a close nexus had been found between a troika of Zardari Group, Omni Group and Bahria Town.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar observed during hearing of the case on Monday that fake accounts appeared to be connected to politicians, Bahria Town and Omni Group, adding the court had yet to examine whether Omni Group had ties to politicians named in the JIT report and if both were linked to Bahria Town as well.

Appearing before the bench, counsel for the Omni Group, Munir Bhatti denied existence of any nexus between the three different companies.

He urged the bench to “allow him to show [the court] the real picture” and told the bench that Omni Group had bought the sugar mills in accordance with the law.

However, the CJP observed that the mills were not available for free of cost, adding the money came through the fake accounts.”

Bhatti submitted that his client was not involved in any illegal activity who purchased sugar mills on subsidies saying that the figures mentioned in the JIT report were not a single record.

Responding to a member of bench Justice Ijazul Ahsan, counsel for Omni group said he nothing know about layering to which the Judge observed the as to why the counsel was delivering arguments in the current matter.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar observed that the bench has to examine replies of the respondents in the matter saying JIT report could not be dismissed.
Later, hearing was adjourned sin die. – TLTP