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The Anti-Corruption Court in Islamabad on Monday (December 24) sentenced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to seven years in prison for graft, while a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) constituted on the orders of the Supreme Court to investigate the multi-billion rupees fake accounts scam, has held former President Asif Zardari responsible for the suspicious transactions.

Nawaz Sharif could not prove the source of income related to the ownership of a steel mill in Saudi Arabia, the anti-corruption court said in its ruling.

Nawaz has also been fined $ 25 million.

His two sons, Hassan and Hussain, who are not in Pakistan, were declared absconders by the court.

Nawaz Sharif was released on bail in September after a court in Islamabad suspended his 10-year sentence on corruption charges. He had been imprisoned two months earlier on charges of failing to disclose the source of his wealth.

This followed a long-running case related to his family’s ownership of luxury properties in London.

Documents leaked from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca in 2016 had revealed that Nawaz Sharif’s children had links to offshore companies, which were used to buy assets including the London apartments.

Nawaz Sharif removed from office in Panama Papers case

In July 2017, Pakistan’s supreme court removed the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, from office in a unanimous verdict over corruption allegations.

The verdict by the five-member court capped a year of political controversy over corruption allegations unleashed by the 2016 Panama Papers leak.

The papers linked Sharif’s children to the purchase of London property through offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands in the early 1990s. At that time the children were minors, and the purchase is assumed to have been made by Sharif.

In its ruling, the court referred all material gathered in the investigation to the court of the national accountability bureau, and recommended opening cases against Sharif, his three children, Mariam, Hassan and Hussain, his son-in-law Muhammad Safdar and his finance minister Ishaq Dar.

Zardari, Omni Group responsible in fake accounts scam

In another mega corruption case, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) constituted on the orders of the Supreme Court to investigate the multi-billion rupees fake accounts scam, has held former president Asif Zardari and his Omni Group responsible for the suspicious transactions.

The JIT Monday presented its probe report before the two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.

The JIT that has been investigating the fake accounts case recommended a legal course against some 415 key individuals and around 172 entities allegedly involved in transactions of approximately Rs 220 billion through 104 fake accounts.

The Federal Investment Agency (FIA) is investigating 32 people in relation to money laundering from fictitious accounts, including Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur.

Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai was arrested in July last in connection with the probe. The former president’s other close aide and Omni Group Chairman Anwar Majeed, a close aide and his son, Abdul Ghani, were arrested by the FIA in August.

Over 20 fake accounts at some private banks were opened in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from where transactions worth billions of rupees were made. The amount, according to FIA sources, is said to be black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday banned the trading and transfers of the properties of the Zardari Group, Bahria Town and Omni Group which are mentioned by the joint investigation team (JIT) probing the fake bank accounts case.

The corruption-related investigations against Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari are part of a campaign against graft promised by Imran Khan, a former cricket star turned politician who was elected as prime minister in July 2017.

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com

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