NAB arrests Sindh Bank chief

ISLAMABAD 11th July: A joint team of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Rawalpindi and Karachi officials on Wednesday arrested the president and two other officials of Sindh Bank in connection with the fake accounts case.

In a brief statement, the graft buster said it had arrested Tahir Ahsan, the president of Sindh Bank, in Karachi over his involvement in the fake accounts case.

Bilal Sheikh, a former president and current director of the bank, and Syed Nadeem Altaf, the bank’s executive vice president, have also been rounded up. Sheikh was arrested by a NAB team in Lahore.
“The accused persons will be produced before the accountability court in Karachi for the grant of transit remand. After remand from the court, the accused persons will be shifted to Islamabad as per law,” the statement read.

The bank officials face charges of granting loans to the tune of Rs1.8 billion to companies owned by Omni Group.

These companies include the Seracom Stock and Capital Private Limited, Parkview Stock Capital Limited and Rubicon Builders and Developers Private Limited.

In December 2015, the FIA began an investigation into certain bank accounts through which billions of rupee transactions were made.

The money was found to have been transferred to accounts of companies owned and operated by the Omni Group, whose chairperson, Anwar Majeed, is a close aide of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. Another beneficiary was Nasir Lootah, the chairperson of Summit Bank.

The probe, however, was shelved. It resumed almost a year and a half later. By June last year, the FIA had several high-profile names on its list but was unable to make headway – for several reasons. It was at his point that the Supreme Court intervened.

In July 2018, Zardari’s close aides — Hussain Lawai, Taha Raza and two others were arrested. Subsequently, the first case was registered in the mega-corruption scandal.

The FIA submitted its report to the apex court on July 8, 2018 that revealed a web of companies and accounts that were being used to transfer billions of rupees.

In all, 29 accounts were identified that received payments, totalling at least Rs35 billion.

In August last year, the FIA named Zardari, Talpur Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed, his sons and over 10 others as suspects in an interim charge sheet filed in the banking court for alleged money laundering to the tune of over Rs4 billion through 29 fake bank accounts opened in three banks.

Omni Group chief Anwar Majeed was arrested along with son Abdul Ghani Majeed in August when they returned to the country on being summoned by the apex court.

The then chief justice ordered the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) to quicken the pace of the investigation.

According to sources, the JIT had identified 11,500 bank accounts and 924 different account holders at the beginning of their investigation.

Certain experts generated 59 transaction reports and 24,500 cash transaction reports. That means the transactions were flagged as suspiciously fraudulent.

Due to the high quantum of transactions, the JIT decided on a threshold of Rs10 million “to track, follow and minutely investigate the flow of funds beyond the immediate counterparties and determine the source of funds and ultimate beneficiaries”.

The authorities cross examined 767 individuals, including Zardari and Talpur, while Bilawal Zardari submitted written responses.

Last month, NAB arrested Zardari after the Islamabad High Court recalled the pre-arrest bail granted to him and his sister Faryal Talpur in the fake accounts case.

Later NAB declared Talpur’s F8 residence in Islamabad as a sub-jail and placed her under house arrest.

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