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SHC dismisses bail of three in multi-billion money laundering case

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has dismissed bail applications of three suspects in a case pertaining to Benami accounts, multi-billion money laundering, parallel banking and gambling.

Naresh Kumar, alias KG, Mohammad Faisal, alias Chitta, and Naresh Kumar, alias Jani, were arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for their involvement in operations of Benami accounts, money laundering and parallel banking practices.

According to the FIA, all the accused were in liaison with foreign accomplices by virtue of internet web portals to cheat the general public. The accused also opened various Benami accounts with all commercial banks to camouflage the nature of ill-gotten funds under the guise of dummy businesses in connivance with bankers.

The FIA investigators in light of interviews and scrutiny of evidence in mobile phones and laptops revealed that the accused were maintaining various Benami accounts with private banks in order to camouflage finances to defame and sabotage the Pakistan Super League Cricket event in collusion with the international racket.

The FIA alleged that the accused were in liaison with the United Arab Emirates-based Lal Chand who facilitated them through web portals whereas Ravi Kumar, the brother of another accused Mahendar Kumar, managed the finances for money laundering.

The counsel for Faisal submitted that the FIR was lodged on February 23 after the delay of about three years for which no explanation had been furnished by the FIA. He submitted that his client was a businessman and engaged in a construction business and no Benami account had been maintained by the applicant nor any loss had been caused to any bank or any person by him.

He submitted that the applicant had no connection with the co-accused as already held by the investigation. However, the trial court did not accept the exoneration of the applicant and he was named as an accused person in the case.

The lawyer submitted that other co-accused of the case had already been granted bail and following the rule of consistency, the applicant also deserved the same concession.

The counsels of another accused questioned the implication of their clients in the case and said that they were implicated by the investigation officer due to ulterior motives.

The deputy attorney general opposed the bail applications except that of Faisal. He submitted that the bail applications of the applicants had been rejected by high court and Supreme Court while the bail granted to co-accused was on differing footings. He said that the trial had commenced and two material witnesses had been examined by the trial court in the case.

A division bench of the SHC headed by Justice Abdul Maalik Gaddi after perusal of the evidence and hearing arguments of the case observed that the investigation officer of the case had arrested seven accused persons and from their possession, mobile phones, laptops, cheque books, bank accounts deposit slips, remittance applications forms and other documents had been recovered in the presence of mashirs.

The high court observed that recoveries from applicants, prima facie, showed their involvement in the case, which appeared to be serious and heinous in nature.

The SHC observed that material on record showed that dubious transactions in different bank accounts of Mahendar Kumar was approximately Rs.5 billion. The court observed that there was no business record found and transactions were not matching with bank accounts or reflected in income tax returns. The court observed that Naresh Kumar ‘Jani’ and Naresh Kumar ‘KG’ in connivance with Mahendar made heavy transactions through their bank accounts and they failed to provide evidence of their physical business with each other against these transactions.

The SHC observed that there were strong pieces of evidence collected by the investigation officer against the applicants in this case and the trial court has already taken cognisance of the case.

The bench observed that the law was quite settled by now that after taking cognisance of the case by the trial court, the FIR registered in that case could not be partly quashed and the fate of the case and accused persons challaned therein was to be determined by the trial court itself.

The SHC observed that the arguments of the applicants that the co-accused had been granted bail was devoid of any force because of the reason that the case of present applicants was altogether on different footings than the case of the co-accused who had been granted bail.

The high court observe that sufficient evidence was available on record against the applicants, therefore, they could not be granted bail, and dismissed their applications.

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