Another JIT!

THE Supreme Court has summoned a number of individuals and heads of different business groups, including former President Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur on July 12 after their names appeared among the beneficiaries of suspicious transactions believed to be meant for money laundering. In its order issued on Monday, the apex court directed the Interior Ministry to immediately place on the Exit Control List (ECL) the names of individuals identified by FIA as suspects to stop them from leaving the country till completion of investigation or further orders.
The court took notice of the slow progress of investigations into the alleged scam that revolves around a 2015 probe into the suspicious transactions through 29 ‘benami accounts’- 16 in the Summit Bank, eight in the Sindh Bank and five in the UBL. Seven individuals were said to be involved in suspicious transactions of around Rs 35 billion and the total amount may reach Rs 70 billion. Intervention of the top court means there would now be speedy progress in investigations and arrest of Hussain Lawai is testimony to the fact that things have started unfolding at rapid pace. Formation of Panama-like Joint Investigation Team (JIT) by FIA to probe the scam might bring to fore what exactly happened and who were involved. Benami accounts are reality and these are widely used for money-laundering but it is also a fact that influential people never allowed the law to take its own course. The action being initiated by the Supreme Court, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and FIA would also help counter to some extent the impression that the accountability process was lop-sided and targeted. Though some circles are raising questions about timing of the action claiming that the issue surfaced several years back but it is being highlighted during electioneering and this might harm electoral prospects of the PPP but no one would disagree that across-the-board process of accountability was need of the hour in view of large-scale and widespread corruption and corrupt practices. We also hope that all those named in Panama Papers as well as in other corruption cases including notorious scandals would be taken to task.

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