A Judicial Magistrate in Lahore has cleared businessman Umar Farooq Zahoor in two cases of money-laundering and fraud – registered against him by his former wife Sophia Mirza with help from former aide to PN on accountability Shahzad Akbar.
Akbar had managed to get PTI government’s cabinet approval for these cases.
Judicial magistrate Ghulam Murtaza Virk acquitted Umar Farooq Zahoor and cancelled two First Information Reports (FIRs) after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) informed the court that its investigations had established that the accused was not involved in fraud, money-laundering and corruption.
Both cases had started in early June 2020 after Sophia Mirza approached the FIA Lahore’s Corporate Circle with Shahzad Akbar’s help, who got the cabinet to approve the investigations, over allegations of fraud and money-laundering of around Rs16 billion by Umar Farooq Zahoor and his brother-in-law Saleem Ahmad.
Sophia Mirza had alleged that Zahoor had committed bank fraud of $89.2m in Norway in 2010 and was facing another alleged case in Bern, Switzerland, in 2004.
The former Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) Shahzad Akbar took Sophia Mirza’s complaints to the cabinet and told the cabinet that Mr Zahoor should be investigated. Immediately after the federal cabinet approved the summary, FIA Lahore Chief Dr Rizwan (the late) started action against Zahoor: his name was placed on the Exit Control List (ECL), non-bailable warrants in one of the first information reports (FIRs) were obtained from court without fulfilling the legal requirements, and on the basis of said non-bailable warrants, his passport and CNIC were blacklisted and red notices were issued through the Interpol by National Crime Bureau (NCB) Pakistan for arresting Zahoor.
When registering the cases, Sophia Mirza used her name as a complainant Khushbakht Mirza to conceal her identity and the fact that Zahoor was her former husband and both were involved in a court dispute over the custody of their two teen daughters. Umar Farooq has publicly alleged that Sophia and her accomplices tried to extort money from him and when he refused they started cases against him using their govt connections in the PTI govt.
The FIA told the court that it issued notices and letters to the Norwegian Police Liaison Officer at Islamabad for collection of relevant evidence but no positive response has been shown by them.
The judge noted that the alleged offence was committed in the year 2010 and that case has already been closed but still FIA had registered this case in the year 2020 while treating the said case as a predicate offence of money laundering.