Terror Finance: Rangers Expedited State Bank for Data on Four Arrested Dignitaries
ISLAMABAD: On the express instructions of Rangers, the State Bank of Pakistan has asked all local and international banks and financial institutions operating in the country to provide complete bank details of four important people arrested in Karachi on charges of funding militants.
In a letter to the presidents and chief executives of all banks and development finance institutions (DFIs), the SBP has also circulated names of the four persons, including Dr Asim Hussain, former petroleum minister and a close confidant of former president Asif Ali Zardari, along with personal details, to provide information and documents to the paramilitary force.
Informed sources told media that the other three in the list were deputy managing director of Sui Southern Gas Company Shoaib Warsi, its former managing director Zohair Siddique and Kamran Ihsan Nagi.
The sources said Rangers had sought access to the bank accounts of these people and their associates and family members.
The paramilitary force, according to the sources, asked the State Bank of Pakistan to direct the banks and financial institutions to provide copies of account opening forms, their authorisation or mandate given to other individuals to operate the bank accounts, along with signature specimen cards and copies of national identity cards.
The banks and DFIs are also required to provide statements of accounts from their opening date. They will also provide information about any other accounts, deposits or lockers maintained or operated by the four individuals or their business concerns with details of security offered, including members of their families.
The banks have been asked to provide details of any other banking facility if granted to a third person or firms against the deposit or guarantee of these individuals, along with details of such facilities, obtained, advised or extended by these persons.
Rangers also sought electronic credit information bureau (ECIB) reports on the four individuals and their family members, or their business concerns.
When contacted on Thursday, SBP’s spokesman Abid Qamar said he was not aware of any such instructions received from Rangers or issued by the SBP to banks regarding account details of the four individuals. He said the SBP and other banks were bound to provide bank details to courts if instructed, but he was not sure if such information could also be shared with law-enforcement agencies.
On Friday, Mr Qamar said he had checked with the department concerned but could not confirm the receipt of any letter from Rangers or dispatched by the central bank to banks and DFIs.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer Mansoor Ali Khan said the central bank had extensive powers under the Banking Companies Ordinance, 1969, and could seek any information from banks. Also, the central bank could secure any information from banks under the Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Terror Financing Law (AML/CFL).
Moreover, under recent amendments made to income tax laws through the finance bill, the Federal Board of Revenue could have specific access to bank accounts for taxation purposes. Likewise, the competent authority, whether SBP, National Accountability Bureau or Federal Investigation Agency, could also have access to bank accounts under the AML/CFL and Protection of Pakistan Act (PPA), but apparently Rangers were not in that scheme unless separately provided for by the government under the law.
Dr Asim was picked up by Rangers on Aug 26, followed by three other individuals on charges of financing militant groups.
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