The Federal Investigation Agency has ordered Muslim Commercial Bank’s leadership to take action against the branch managers involved in interfering with the agency’s investigation of a money laundering case against PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) told the Muslim Commercial Bank’s Chairman, Mian Muhammad Mansha, and CEO, Imran Maqbool, in a notice dated 19 September that it has uncovered digital evidence against two senior bank managers. It revealed the managers to be VP Asim Khan Suri, who was arrested on these charges two days ago, and EVP Azhar Mehmood.
According to the notice, these managers had “started adversely influencing” the bank officials who were the FIA’s witnesses in the money laundering case.
It read: “They issued instructions to relevant branch-managers/bank officials to conceal and suppress the facts; regarding the opening and operations of these accounts, with an express intention (revealed by digital evidence) to screen the actual beneficiaries (Sharif family) from legal consequences”.
These witnesses then told the FIA that they were unable to fully disclose facts about the case as they were afraid of potential backlash from the MCB’s management.
The FIA ordered the MCB’s Chairman and CEO to take action against the two managers identified in the notice in order to prevent the senior management from exerting undue influence on and harassing its witnesses and to immediately halt the attempts to tamper with the evidence for the case.
It also ordered the bank’s leadership to circulate instructions to all its officials to fully assist the FIA in its investigations and to report any other fake accounts or evidence linked with the case. It warned that failure to adhere to this order would lead the agency to view the MCB’s leadership as partaking in the abovementioned crimes, and would prompt proceedings against the MCB.
This case refers to previous money-laundering proceedings that the FIA had initiated against a number of fake ID bank accounts operated between 2010 in 2018 in the name of low-wage workers of Ramzan Sugar Mills Limited.
The account-holders told the FIA that these accounts existed to conduct “secret transactions” to benefit Shahbaz Sharif’s family and the Director of Ramzan Sugar Mills Limited (RSML).
Transactions involving Rs. 8.4 billion of a total of Rs. 25 billion of the money laundered had taken place in various branches of the MCB in Lahore and Chiniot.
The FIA said in the notice that “during investigations, the fictitious ID account-holders (RSML peons and low-wage employees) and relevant branch managers/bank officials frankly admitted that these criminal acts were being done/acquiesced under the overwhelming pressure and influence (read duress) of the Sharif family and the MCB management”.