FIA reaches out to SBP, SECP for details about Summit Bank

On Sunday, a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, summoned the CEOs and presidents of the Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and United Bank Limited (UBL) and others mentioned in the FIR registered by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) over money laundering charges

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KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Security Exchange Company of Pakistan (SECP) have been approached by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) seeking details of Summit Bank’s equity and names of CEOs of Zardari Group and Omni firm.

This development comes amidst the Rs35 billion money laundering case being probed by FIA against 13 firms on the directives of the apex court, after it was discovered 29 ‘fake’ accounts had been opened in three banks Summit Bank, United Bank and Sindh Bank, reported Dawn.

According to the FIA, the money was transferred to the accounts of the firms of a UAE national namely Nasser Abdulla Hussain Lootah, who owns 58 percent of shares in Summit bank and is also the chairman of its board of directors.

As per details, the UAE citizen was to deposit Rs17 billion as equity, whilst Rs7 billion were sent to his account for this purpose.

On orders of the Supreme Court (SC), Rs7 billion have been frozen to ensure it doesn’t convert into equity of Summit Bank.

Mr Lootah who is an overseas national, was supposed to bring money from abroad. The FIA has asked the central bank to confirm whether overseas nationals could maintain equity domestically taking its laws and policies into consideration.

Lastly, the SECP has been reached out to by the FIA seeking details regarding CEOs and account operators of the beneficiary firms during the period this dubious transaction occurred, which would help them to send notices in light of the directives given by SC.

On Sunday, a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, summoned the CEOs and presidents of the Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and United Bank Limited (UBL) and others mentioned in the FIR registered by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) over money laundering charges.

The FIA investigation has also revealed names of the beneficiaries of suspicious transactions, including those of former president Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur as members of the Zardari Pvt Ltd.

Pakistan Stock Exchange Chairman Hussain Lawai, a close aide of Zardari, and co-accused Taha Raza, the corporate unit head of the Summit Bank, have already been arrested by the FIA.

On a request by FIA director general Bashir Memon, the court ordered the freezing of Rs7 billion deposited by the Summit Bank as its equity in the SBP.

The FIA chief told the court that the inquiry into the suspicious transactions was initiated in 2015 on a source report and, as a result, 29 ‘benami’ accounts were identified.

Of these 16 were in the Summit bank, eight in the Sindh Bank and five in the UBL. Seven individuals were involved in suspicious transactions of Rs35bn, he added.

The chief justice said that when he was in Karachi recently, he got a clue that the Summit Bank was being merged with the Sindh Bank and he had to intervene by asking the SBP governor to stop the process.

The FIA DG regretted that the bankers were not providing required records to the agency.