The Supreme Court on Wednesday approved the bail of Omni Group’s Anwar Majeed — the prime suspect in the fake accounts case involving Pakistan Peoples Party leaders Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur — on medical grounds.
In today’s hearing, the National Accountability Bureau’s prosecutor told the court that Majeed was admitted in the hospital since day one. He added that the accused was yet to appear before the anti-corruption watchdog.
“15 investigations and four references are pending due to Anwar Majeed’s non-cooperation,” the NAB prosecutor told the court.
To this, Justice Alam, who is heading the two-member bench, interjected and told Majeed to not cause problems in the investigations. While Justice Qazi Amin, the other member of the bench, observed that the accused had a chronic heart condition.
“Getting treatment is Anwar Majeed’s basic right [but] no one will [leave] the country,” said Justice Amin. He added that the court cannot allow the accused from leaving the country for treatment.
Munir A Akram, the counsel for Majeed, then contended by saying that the co-accused in the case, Asif Ali Zardari, was also out on bail. He added that doctors had advised his client to get his surgery done from the UK or the US.
“Forget about leaving the country, no one will go abroad now,” remarked Justice Amin to the counsel’s request.
The bench later granted bail to Majeed but said that it was dependent on his cooperation with the National Accountability Bureau in its ongoing investigation against him. It said that if the accused stops cooperating with the anti-corruption watchdog then the bail can be revoked.
The apex court in its order also asked the government to place Majeed’s name in the Exit Control List and directed him to submit his passport with the top court’s registrar’s office. Apart from this, the court has also ordered the accused to submit Rs100 million as a bank guarantee
What is the fake bank accounts case all about?
In October 2015, the anti-corruption wing of the Federal Investigation Agency(FIA) in Karachi received a tip-off of suspicious intra-bank transactions from the Summit Bank, Sindh Bank, and the United Bank Limited.
The profiles of the account holders did not match their earnings/income. FIA authorities suspected that these accounts were being run by the Zardari Group and Omni Group, amongst others.
The case dragged on until June 2018, when the Supreme Court took suo moto notice of the fake accounts and directed a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the matter.
The JIT found that 32 fake bank accounts were being operated by 11 fake entities to launder money from “kickbacks, land grabbing, and large scale misappropriation of public funds.”
There are 24 accused, according to the JIT, who operated, benefited, and abetted the transactions including former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur.
How is the Omni Group involved?
According to the JIT, a major beneficiary of the fake accounts transactions was the Karachi-based Omni Group. The Group, says the JIT, had a “startling and unprecedented (abnormal) growth 2009 onwards,” interestingly, after the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) took power.
From 2008 to 2013, the company grew at a whopping 2,500% and added a total of 83 companies under its umbrella. The growth percentage fell to 142% after 2013 when the PPP lost the central government.