FIA arrests Zardari’s close aide Anwar Majeed

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested Anwar Majeed, former president Asif Ali Zardari’s close aide and the head of Omni Group, from outside the Supreme Court.

Abdul Ghani Majeed was also arrested after the Omni Group head and his four sons appeared before the top court in connection to a case pertaining to money laundering through fake bank accounts.

During the hearing, the bench dismissed the petition of Omni Group counsel, Shahid Hamid, seeking pre-arrest bail for his clients.

As the hearing went under way, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar remarked, ” If the FIA wishes, the Majeed family can be taken into custody.”

The Omni Group counsel informed the court that the names of Majeed and Ghani were already on the Exit Control List (ECL).

To this, the chief justice questioned who placed their names on the ECL and DG FIA responded that court orders state that they be barred from travelling abroad.

Majeed’s counsel then contended that he be given time to present his arguments in the case. However, the chief justice remarked, “We will form a joint investigation team and if anyone wants to argue then they can appear before it.”

Justice Nisar also rejected Majeed’s plea to unfreeze his bank accounts.

Directing the Majeed family to appear before the FIA, Justice Nisar observed, “Like Zardari and Faryal Talpur, Majeed family should also be included in the investigations of fake bank accounts.”

The hearing was then adjourned.

On Monday, Justice Nisar had suggested a joint investigation team like the one formed for Panama Papers should be constituted to probe the case of alleged fake bank accounts.

During Monday’s hearing, the head of Omni Group failed to appear in court.
The counsel for Omni Group, Shahid Hamid had requested the apex court to grant three more days to respond to the orders. However, Justice Nisar had rejected the request.

During the earlier hearing, the DG FIA had informed the court that officials had found 15 more accounts of A-One International, from which Rs6 billion had been transacted.

He said that an account was opened in the name of a person, who worked as a graphics designer with a private TV channel, and Rs800 million were transacted from this account. Another fake account was opened in the name of a Lahore woman, from which Rs1.5 billion were remitted.
The official said that he could say for sure that bribe money was deposited in these accounts.
Hamid had, however, said that there was no mention of bribery or corruption in the JIT report and all finances of Omni Group were legal, which was also audited.
The FIA is investigating 32 people in relation to money laundering from fictitious accounts, including Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur. Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai was arrested last month in connection with the probe.
Over 20 ‘benami’ accounts at some private banks were opened in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from where transactions worth billions of rupees were made, according to sources. The amount, according to FIA official, is said to be black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.