SC orders removal of Bilawal, CM Sindh’s names from ECL, JIT report

Supreme Court to start e-court system from Monday

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday ordered removal of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah’s names from the Exit Control List (ECL) and Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) report in the high profile fake bank accounts case.
Both Bilawal and Shah were named in the report submitted by the JIT — that was formed to probe money laundering through multiple fake accounts — to the top court last month.
The top court was hearing a suo motu case regarding a delay into a 2015 Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) probe into money laundering of billions via fake bank accounts.
The bench that was hearing the case, also ordered that the case be sent to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for inquiry. Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar said that the anti-corruption watchdog can summon Shah and Bilawal during its investigation if it deems it necessary. NAB must complete its investigation within two months, the court ordered.
Earlier, Justice Nisar had grilled the state prosecutor over the government’s decision to place PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on the exit control list (ECL).
Justice Nisar in today’s hearing asked why the joint investigation team (JIT) formed by the court to probe the case had included Bilawal’s name in its report.
“The JIT will have to clarify one thing: Why did it involve Bilawal in this matter?” Justice Nisar asked. “What did Bilawal do?”
The chief justice wondered if the PPP chairman’s name had been included on “someone’s directives”. He asked state prosecutor Faisal Siddiqui if the reason behind Bilawal’s inclusion in the investigation was to “defame someone”.
He also expressed annoyance at the placement of the Sindh chief minister’s name on the ECL.
Several bigwigs, including Zardari, Talpur, former president of Summit Bank Hussain Lawai and Omni Group’s Anwar Majeed, were all nominated in the case. Property tycoon Malik Riaz, his son-in-law Zain, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari have also been included in the probe.
A banking court in Karachi extended the interim bail of PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur until Jan 23 in the fake accounts case.
The siblings face allegedly illegally channelled funds through the said accounts in connivance with the chief executive officers of major banks.
Both PPP leaders appeared in court for the hearing of the case today amid tight security.
A racket ensued at the premises of the banking court when security officials refused to let PPP supporters enter the courtroom after Zardari and Talpur had made their way inside.
When asked to order the FIA to file its final charge sheet in the case, the judges said that the SC had halted proceedings in the banking court since it is [currently hearing a similar case].
The hearing was adjourned until January 23.

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