MCB says interference charges from FIA unfounded

Shahid Aslam Special Correspondent - Lahore

30th Sep, 2021. 07:08 pm

LAHORE: Chief Executive Officer and President Muslim Commercial Bank (MCB), Imran Maqbool termed the allegations of interference levelled by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against its top management as unfounded and uncalled for, Bol News has learnt.

The MCB has also assured the FIA of its full support to probe money laundering charges against the Sharifs.

The FIA Lahore, investigating the infamous sugar scandal, had levelled serious allegations against the top management of the MCB of interfering into its investigations against PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and his family. A senior MCB banker named Asim Suri was also arrested by FIA on the charges of influencing the witnesses (MCB bankers) to testify in favour of Shehbaz and his family currently being probed in a Rs 25 billion money laundering case.

The CEO and President MCB Imran Maqbool has written a four-page letter in response to a letter written by Director FIA Lahore Zone-1 and head of sugar inquiry team, Dr Muhammad Rizwan on September 19.

Dr Rizwan in a letter to MCB CEO Imran Maqbool and MCB Chairman Mian Muhammad Mansha had accused the top management of the Bank of interfering in the investigations of money laundering against Shehbaz Sharif and his family.

The head of sugar inquiry team of FIA had stated in the letter that the Agency had evidences that the top officials of the Bank were creating hindrances in their probe by influencing witnesses, many of whom are MCB bankers, to facilitate the accused.

The senior FIA official had further warned the MCB and its top management to stay away from its probe against the PML-N president and his sons otherwise strict actions will be taken against the Bank.

“The above assistance and co-operation rendered by the Bank in the matter aside, the letter casts various doubts and allegations about the senior management of the Bank, inter alia, related to non-assistance/co-operation, purported facilitation of criminal acts and influence on officials of Bank.”

The CEO MCB further pointed out that such doubts and allegations were uncalled for, being made without substance, and appears to have been made primarily based on alleged actions of an individual whose job description was restricted to co-ordination with the relevant law enforcement agencies only.

According to Imran Maqbool, the act of one individual could not have been attributed to the Bank or its senior management as a whole.

The CEO MCB has stated that the Bank, being one of the largest commercial banks of Pakistan, will continue to assist, co-operate and stand with all government law enforcement agencies in respect of any and all legal proceedings and investigations being undertaken by any such agency.

According to the CEO, the Bank has fully co-operated with and assisted the FIA in respect of its investigation being undertaken in relation to the Sugar Inquiry Commission’s Report 2020 with respect to various entities and individuals, including Ramzan Sugar Mills Limited (RSML).

“The factum of such co-operation and assistance can be gauged from the fact that during the last one year or above, the Bank has had hundreds of communications with the concerned officials of FIA in the matter whilst voluminous record/documents pertaining to various entities/accounts under investigation, including RSML and its related persons/entities, has been provided by the Bank to FIA; the same being duly documented and part of record.”

In addition to the above documented communications, the CEO wrote, numerous officials of the Bank have, time and again, visited the concerned officials of FIA to provide all requisite assistance.

“More so, when the Bank has itself provided all necessary information and documents as required by FIA, from time to time, in relation to the subject matter.”

Furthermore, Mr Maqbool clarified that, “With reference to Suspicious Transaction Reports (STR), it may be noted that the phenomenon of such reporting, across the banking sector, has reached its digitalized form in the year 2017-18 with the emergence of compliance with FATF requirements.”

“No STR with retrospective effect can be raised as per the applicable operating procedures regarding the same and the Bank has already provided all requisite record and documents to FIA, as and when required.

The CEO rebuffed the impression that the senior management of the Bank was involved in harassment to any of its branch-managers/officials, required by FIA as witnesses, nor shall any such act be undertaken in future as the same was against the policy and working of the Bank.

“No adverse action shall be taken against any official/employee of the Bank merely because such official employee is part of any FIA proceedings as a witness.”

However, Mr Maqbool wrote, the Bank was conducting its own internal inquiry in relation to the subject matter and any disciplinary action or legal proceedings in pursuance thereof, on account of any lapses, acts and omissions, if any discovered, in performance of official duties, will only be taken in accordance with the applicable rules and laws.

“Äny impression to the effect that any record and document related to the matter may be destroyed is against the policy and stance of the Bank. The Bank has always, as a responsible corporate entity, discharged its obligations with respect to liasoning with investigating agencies in respect of any ongoing investigation.”

In the same spirit, he added, the Bank has, during the course of this investigation, extended all necessary assistance to FIA in the subject matter and has provided the requisite information/documents, from time to time, in accordance with the provisions of the applicable law.

“The concerned officials of the Bank are available, as and when required, for further assistance of FIA in the matter, so as to ensure that no prejudice is caused in the ongoing proceedings, he added.

The CEO MCB further wrote FIA that the Bank has nominated Amir Nawab, Senior Vice President and departmental head litigation for any future correspondence or requirement.

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