ISLAMABAD  -  Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar Monday observed the representatives of intelligence agencies were included in Panama Joint Investigation Team only to spice up the same.

The six-member Panama JIT, which also included representatives of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI), had submitted its report against PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif on the basis of which the top court disqualified him from being a member of the National Assembly and subsequently ousted him from the office of prime minister.

The considerable observation of the chief justice came during the hearing as the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), on a query regarding formation of Panama-style JIT to probe alleged multi-billion rupees money-laundering scam, informed the bench regarding members of the Panama JIT, stating that military officials were also part of the team. The chief justice remarked that those officers were made part only to spice up the Panama JIT.

The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan has already expressed the intention for constituting a JIT to probe the matter.

The bench was hearing a suo motu case regarding alleged money laundering through fake bank accounts wherein Pakistan People’s Party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and his close aides are also involved.

Making it clear that the military officers will not be the part of the joint investigation team, the chief justice observed it will include officials aware of white-collar crimes.

During the course of the hearing, the counsels representing the accused persons in the scam requested the top court to drop the proceedings so that it could not be prejudiced as the matter was being tried in the trial court.

The CJP observed the top court had absolute powers to give any direction under Article 184 (3) in order to meet the ends of justice, adding the SC could even quash the challan submitted in the trial court. Justice Bandial, however, observed the top court had no power to pass any order in violation of the law.

FIA Director General Bashir Memon who was present during the proceedings told the bench that 15 more fake accounts had surfaced through which Rs 6 billion were transacted.

Memon told the bench that out of the 15 accounts, one belonged to a graphic designer and one in the name of a woman. The FIA DG added Rs 800 million were reflected in the designer’s account while the woman’s account reflected Rs 1.5 billion.

The DG also submitted FIA’s progress report before the bench, stating during the course of investigation, the amounts deposited and withdrawn had been scrutinized, which resulted in tracking of different individuals, mainly government contractors, including Pak Oasis (Pvt) Ltd and Waseem Builders.

Pak Oasis, a government contractor for installation of RO plants across Sindh, deposited Rs 98.32 million in fake accounts , the FIA stated, adding Waseem Builders had deposited Rs 1.6 million in fake or suspected accounts and was awarded contract in Liyari development package.

The report stated that during the investigation, 15 suspected fake accounts surfaced. Scrutiny of the bank record revealed huge cash amounts had been withdrawn from fake or suspected accounts by accused Arif Khan, Naeem and Hassan Brohi, it stated.

An account in the names of Zain Malik and Mushtaq Hazaro was opened at Summit Bank. “From February 2014 to January 2015, Rs 8.3 billion were transferred in this account. An amount of Rs 4.71 billion was transferred in fake/suspected account, whereas Rs 3.76 billion were withdrawn under fake signatures of Tariq Sultan,” the report stated. Ashraf, Naeem and other individuals’ CNICs were also used for cash withdrawal from fake/suspected accounts, the report stated.

“The amount transferred through cheques is Rs 7.2 billion from Zain Malik’s account and from Bahria Town Rs 3.76 billion, making a total of Rs 10.96 billion,” the report stated.

“Accused Lawai has provided cell numbers of different individuals like Ali Riaz Malik, his wife’s account number at Dubai and messages for resolving issues of accused Nasir Abdullah Lootah.

The report stated that numerous cheques whose calculations are underway had been issued from new suspected fake accounts of Dream Trading and Ocean Enterprises with code marks on the back of cheques. The report added that these cheques had been credited in five suspicious accounts of Hawala in Peshawar.

“The pattern of transactions of billions of rupees suggests these accounts pertain to the persons who provide ‘Chamak’ (UAE Dirham) at Dubai,” the report further stated.

The report also mentioned exchange of emails and WhatsApp messages between accused Lawai and one Taha Raza. It revealed M/s Rubicon Builders and Developers Pvt Ltd were asked to transfer Rs 500 million to Umair Associates, A-One International, Koyal International and Iqbal Metals.

During the course of hearing, DG FIA Memon opined before the bench that the mentioned funds were generated from bribery. However, the counsels appearing on behalf of the accused persons strongly negated the opinion and said these views were being made part of media trial. Justice Bandial also expressed displeasure and asked the DG FIA that how allegations of bribery could be levelled before the conclusion of investigation. He observed the court treated everyone equally.

Shahid Hamid, counsel for Omni Group’s Anwar Majeed, told the bench that the FIA’s JIT could establish bribery or corruption in its report, adding the funds were legal and a regular audit was also being conducted.

The chief justice observed the new JIT could also be led by FIA’s Additional DG Wajid Zia, adding the bench will hear objectors before forming any JIT.

The court adjourned the hearing till Wednesday with directions for appearance of Anwar Majeed and his involved family members. The bench also directed the Sindh IGP to take departmental action against the police officers who were involved in harassing witnesses.