News Desk |
The problems for former president Asif Ali Zardari worsen as a key accused named in the fake accounts case – Nasser Abdulla Hussain Lootah – has become an approver in the fake accounts case.
Geo News reported that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has claimed a major breakthrough in the fake accounts case against Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and others, saying the Dubai resident and member of Summit Bank’s Board of Directors has agreed to become an approver in the case.
The channel reported that the arrest warrants issued for Lootah have been suspended after he agreed to become an approver in the case.
In the report, NAB listed down at least eight cases where Zardari’s link had allegedly been established. It further added that 22 inquiries and three investigations were underway while three references have been filed.
Earlier today, an accountability court in Islamabad extended the judicial remand of Zardari and Talpur till September 5 in the money laundering and fake bank accounts case.
US Senate’s Report and Money Laundering through Summit Bank
Earlier, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi had said that corruption was so rampant that a US Senate committee conducted a whole case study on money laundering allegedly involving PPP’s co-chairman “Hazrat Asif Ali Zardari”. He had lambasted PPP, its chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his father in his speech at the National Assembly on June 24.
Questioning the ownership of the Summit Bank, Zaidi had said, the owner has written a letter to the authorities concerned that he doesn’t own the bank. “The question is who owns the bank then,” he had inquired, adding “Mr Speaker, you can take my resignation if you do not find the record of money laundering from the bank’s records.”
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While referring to a 1999 report of the US Senate’s Permanent Sub Committee on Investigation of Governmental Affairs, Zaidi had said that it was a case study on money laundering. “Read the report from page No. 902 onwards,” he said, “the whole case study is on Hazrat Asif Ali Zardari.”
The US senator’s report is as if you are getting a Bachelors of Commerce degree by attending evening classes, he had quipped, adding that one can get a Ph.D. degree after reading the recent JIT report on the fake bank accounts case.
NAB Arrests Zardari
NAB had arrested Zardari from his Islamabad residence hours after the IHC dismissed Zardari’s ad-interim bail in two cases related to money laundering of billions through fake accounts. Subsequently, NAB had shifted him to the accountability bureau’s Rawalpindi office.
IHC’s divisional bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani had dismissed pre-arrest bail pleas filed by Zardari and Sindh lawmaker Faryal Talpur, which allowed the anti-graft watchdog to arrest Zardari and his sister.
After IHC had dismissed bail plea, a large number of security personnel and senior officials had reached the former president’s Islamabad residence. Before making the arrest, the accountability body had approached National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to seek permission for arresting the PPP lawmaker.
In July 2018, Zardari’s close aides Hussain Lawai, Taha Raza and two others were arrested. Subsequently, the first case was registered in the mega-corruption scandal.
The media had reported that the cases are part of the investigations being conducted by NAB in pursuance of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the money laundering of billions through fake accounts case wherein it forwarded the joint investigation team (JIT) report with directions to investigate and file references.
Other suspects include Omni Group’s Anwar Majeed and his son Abdul Ghani Majeed, former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairperson Hussain Lawai, Summit Bank Senior Vice-President Taha Raza.
On May 14, the anti-corruption unit furnished details of inquiries, investigations, and references in the fake accounts case. In the report, NAB listed down at least eight cases where Zardari’s link had allegedly been established. It further added that 22 inquiries and three investigations were underway while three references have been filed.
Fake Accounts Case History
Zardari, Talpur, Omni Group’s Anwar Majid and his sons, and the former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairperson Hussain Lawai are among those being investigated in a case related to money laundering of billions through fictitious bank accounts.
In December 2015, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had initiated a discreet investigation into certain bank accounts through which multi-billion-rupee transactions were made after some information came to the fore when an intelligence agency picked up a prominent money changer in an unrelated case.
Read more: NAB arrests Zardari in fake bank accounts case
As per media reports, the investigators have so far identified 29 accounts which received payments, totaling at least Rs35 billion. The reports added that the probe was initially shelved but resumed almost a-year-and-a-half later with FIA’s State Bank circle initiating a formal inquiry in January 2018. By June, the FIA had several high-profile names on its list but was unable to make headway–for several reasons.
It was then the Supreme Court intervened and the then chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar took suo motu notice of the ‘slow progress’ in the money-laundering case. In July 2018, Zardari’s close aides Hussain Lawai, Taha Raza and two others were arrested. Subsequently, the first case was registered in the mega-corruption scandal.
Subsequently, the ex CJP Nisar had ordered the formation of a JIT, which identified 11,500 bank accounts and 924 account holders at the start of their investigation. After the JIT report, the names of 172 individuals were placed on the no-fly list by the interior ministry.
In addition, over 20 ‘benami’ accounts at some private banks were opened in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from where transactions worth billions of rupees were made, the media had reported, adding that the amount is said to be black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions, and bribes.
Read more: NAB detains Zardari’s sister Faryal Talpur
The case was transferred to the court in the capital after a Karachi banking court accepted NAB’s transfer request which came following the Supreme Court’s decision wherein the JIT report and evidence collected was referred to NAB for further investigations.