Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Monday ordered the government to remove the names of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Shah from the exit control list and the report of the joint investigation team probing the fake bank accounts case.
Hearing the case, over the delay into the 2015 probe, the apex court ordered that the case be forwarded to the anti-corruption watchdog – National Accountability Bureau (NAB), according to a media report. It also directed the NAB to wrap up its probe within two months.
A person cannot fly abroad if his name is placed on the Exit Control List (ECL). The JIT last month submitted its report to the top court in which it named both Bilawal and Shah, apart from former president Asif Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, former president of Summit Bank Hussain Lawai and Omni Group’s Anwar Majeed for laundering around Rs 22000 crore through fictitious bank accounts.
Hundreds of ‘benami’ accounts at some private banks were opened in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from where transactions worth billions of rupees were made, according to the probe. The amount is alleged to be black money amassed from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.
Chief Justice Saqib Nisar on Monday questioned the state prosecutor why the government decided to place Bilawal on the no-fly list after the JIT recommended the placement of 172 people named in its report on the exit control list (ECL), the Dawn reported.
“The JIT will have to clarify one thing: Why did it involve Bilawal in this matter?” Justice Nisar said, adding “What did Bilawal do?” The chief justice wondered if the PPP chairman’s name had been included upon “someone’s directives” to “defame someone”. He also expressed displeasure over putting the Sindh chief minister’s name on the ECL.
Justice Nisar then ordered that the names of Bilawal and Shah be removed from the ECL and the JIT report, and the case be sent to the NAB, which has to conclude its probe in two months. He said that if necessary, the NAB may summon Bilawal and Shah during its investigation for questioning.
Meanwhile, a banking court in Karachi also extended the interim bail of PPP Co-Chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur until January 23 in the fake accounts case.
Zardari and Talpur allegedly channelled funds through fake accounts in connivance with the chief executive officers of major banks.