Money-laundering investigation against Pakistan’s former president put on hold

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Thu, 2018-07-12 17:14

KARACHI: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to temporarily halt its investigation into former President Asif Ali Zardari’s, and his sister Faryal Talpur’s, alleged connection to money laundering.

The FIA had summoned Zardari and Talpur to appear on July 11 and record their statements about a transaction of Rs15 million into the account of their Zardari Group from one of the 29 accounts reportedly used to launder Rs35 billion.
On July 9, the FIA sent official summons to Zardari and Talpur, which were later posted on the walls of their residences as no one received them in person.
“It has come on record that cheque No.5384360, dated 20-05-2014, amounting to Rs15 million of A/c No.1-2-28-20620-714-139111 titled A-One international maintained at summit bank Kh-e-Tanzeem Branch Karachi is credited in account No 1-2-15-20620-714-103078 titled Zardari group (Pvt) Limited maintained at summit bank,” read the summons issued to the former president by Muhammad Ali Abro, Assistant Director, Banking Circle of FIA Sindh.
The summons, which warned Zardari and Talpur of the initiation of legal action in case of noncompliance, continued: “Whereas you being the director of M/S Zardari Group (Pvt) Ltd. are acquainted with the facts of the said case, therefore, you are advised to appear before the undersigned to record your statement on 11-07-2018 at 10:00 hours along with your original CNIC and to justify the above mentioned transaction along with complete details.”
Earlier, the FIA registered against Hussain Lawai, former chairman of the Summit bank; Anwar Majeed; and others. The FIA claims that “M/S Zardari Group (Asif Ali Zardari, Faryal Talpur, etc) got Rs15 million and were among the beneficiaries of the transaction trail of fake bank accounts maintained by Omni Group, owned by Anwar Majeed, another close aide of the former president.”
A number of different entities owned by Majeed can be found in the list of depositors and beneficiaries of the fake bank account maintained in the name of a citizen without his approval.
The FIA found that one of the depositors in the fake account turned out to be M/S Bahria Town Karachi project, and Zain Malik, who had deposited Rs750 million. Neither Malik nor the spokesperson of his Bahria Town Karachi project responded to Arab News’ requests for comment.
Speaking to media outside the apex court on Thursday, Zardari’s counsel, Farooq H. Naik said that, during the hearing, the Supreme Court clarified that it had not placed Zardari’s name on the Exit Control List.
Naik claimed that the case had been brought “to keep the Pakistan People’s Party (to which Zardari is affiliated) away from contesting the elections.” 
Speaking to Arab News, Zardari’s spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said the FIA’s actions are an attempt at pre-poll rigging.
“The FIA and NAB (National Accountability Bureau) will get nothing out of this action,” Babar stated. “Asif Ali Zardari has always been a victim of fake cases and he has turned out clean in the end.”

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