FIA arrests MCB top official in money laundering case

Shahid Aslam Special Correspondent - Lahore

19th Sep, 2021. 07:54 pm
Record, Machinery Burnt In Quetta FIA Office Fire

LAHORE: The money laundering case of Rs25 billion against PML-N president and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shahbaz took a new turn on Sunday, as the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested Asim Suri, vice president and head of compliance of the MCB Bank Limited on the charges of influencing witnesses against the Sharifs.

According to FIA sources, Suri was allegedly coercing prosecution witnesses, including the MCB Bank officials to change their statements in favour of the accused.

FIA Lahore Zone-1 director Dr Rizwan confirmed to BOL News that the FIA has arrested Asim Suri of MCB Bank under sections 3/4 and 25 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) and section 201 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), etc.

Dr Rizwan also told BOL News that they have also obtained arrest warrants of former FIA official Azhar Mahmood on similar charges.

Mahmood is attached with the MCB Bank for the last several years in high-profile wilful default and recovery matters.

Head of sugar inquiry team of the FIA said his team was doing its best to arrest Azhar Mahmood at the earliest.

According to FIA, Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz are facing a money laundering case worth Rs25 billion allegedly committed through various benami accounts of low rank employees, including clerks, security guards and watchmen in Ramzan Sugar Mill, owned by the Sharif family.

Both father-son duo are on the pre-arrest bails and the next date of hearing of their bails has been fixed for September 25.

The FIA investigators, investigating sugar scam, on September 17, 2021 had submitted a list of 26 bankers, including 13 bankers of the MCB Bank, as witnesses against Sharifs in the money laundering case.

Special Judicial Magistrate Muhammad Kamran Zafar had recorded statements of six bankers on Saturday and adjourned the hearing till September 23.

Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz couldn’t appear in the court for cross-examination, as the PML-N’s lawyers claimed both of them had not received the court summons.

Sources within FIA told BOL News that the FIA’s sugar inquiry team had not only summoned several bankers, including MCB’s but also former FIA additional director Azhar Mahmood on Saturday.

The sources said the FIA team not only seized mobile phone of Azhar Mahmood but he was also made to sit at least for six hours. On Saturday, the FIA Lahore Zone-1 director and head of sugar inquiry team DIG Dr Rizwan was not only present at his office but was supervising the whole activity.

According to the FIA sources, Dr Rizwan left the FIA office in the evening, Azhar Mahmood also escaped in his car. The FIA officials only came to know about Azhar’s escape when they had sent an official for his signature on the seizure memo but found him absent from a room where he was detained.

Around a dozen CCTV cameras have been installed inside the FIA building at Regal Chowk.

Responding to a query, Dr Rizwan said Azhar Mahmood managed to escape on Saturday because at that time the FIA team was busy in unfolding evidence against him and he got the chance to flee.

Efforts were made to reach MCB official and Azhar Mahmood for their point of view but they didn’t respond.

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