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Millions withdrawn from Omni Group’s ‘frozen’ accounts, FIA tells SC

Millions withdrawn from Omni Group’s ‘frozen’ accounts, FIA tells SC

ISLAMABAD: The Omni Group allegedly withdrew funds from bank accounts that were supposed to have been frozen under court orders, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) told the Supreme Court on Friday through a report.

The Supreme Court, on the FIA’s request, had earlier ordered the freezing of 41 bank accounts operated by six companies owned by the Omni Group, whose chairman, Anwar Majeed – along with former president Asif Ali Zardari and others – is being investigated over allegations of money laundering.

The FIA reported to the court today that, despite its orders, 10 of the 41 accounts were not frozen right away, due to which millions of rupees worth of transactions were conducted from those accounts.

The said accounts, according to the agency, were all held by the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), which had issued instructions to its staff to “debit block” the accounts.

However, owing to the negligence of a staffer, the FIA said, the accounts were frozen after some delay, and that allowed some transactions to take place.

The staffer, an Assistant Vice President named Afzal Sadiq, has since been suspended, the agency told the court.

Pak Ethanol, Tando Allayar Sugar Mills, Omni Polymer Packages, Omni Pvt Ltd, Chambar Sugar Mills and Ansari Sugar Mills are the six companies whom the 10 bank accounts belong to.

Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur, along with Omni Group Chairman Anwar Majeed and other business aides, face allegations that they illegally channeled funds through fake bank accounts and laundered them in connivance with the CEOs of major banks.

The case was initially registered in 2015 against former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Hussain Lawai, who is widely believed to be close to former president Zardari.

Lawai is in judicial custody, which the FIA has been given physical remand of Anwar Majeed and several others.