News Desk |
The anti-corruption authorities arrested on Friday the sister of the country’s incarcerated former president Asif Ali Zardari in a money laundering case.
Faryal Talpur, a younger sister of Zardari and a member of Sindh Assembly, was taken into custody by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) – a corruption watchdog – in Islamabad, in a money laundering case involving her brother and other family members.
Talpur has been kept at her Islamabad residence after the NAB, through a notification, declared her home as a sub-jail.
On May 14, the anti-corruption unit furnished details of inquiries, investigations and references in the fake accounts case
Zardari, who is currently on a 10-day remand in NAB’s custody in Islamabad, was arrested earlier this week. Zardari, the widower of slain premier Benazir Bhutto and co-chairman of Pakistan People’s Party, served as president from 2008-2013.
He together with other family members has been accused of laundering more than Rs35 billion ($300 million) through fake accounts. He has denied the charges.
NAB arrests Zardari in Fake Bank Accounts Case
On June 10, NAB arrested the former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari from his Islamabad residence hours after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) dismissed Zardari’s ad-interim bail in the fake accounts case.
Subsequently, NAB had shifted the ex-president to the accountability bureau’s Rawalpindi office.
On Monday, IHC’s divisional bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani has dismissed pre-arrest bail pleas filed by Zardari and Sindh lawmaker Faryal Talpur, which allowed the anti-graft watchdog to arrest the Zardari.
After IHC dismissed bail plea, security personnel and senior officials reached the former president’s Islamabad residence. Reportedly, the 15-member NAB team was initially unable to enter the premises as Zardari’s legal team asked for the court order and other papers.
Before making the arrest, the accountability body approached National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to seek permission for arresting the PPP lawmaker.
Also, NAB had accused Zardari of awarding illegal water supply contract to the private company – M/S Harish & Company. The high court disposed of pre-arrest plea in the M/S Harish & Company case after NAB prosecutor informed the court that it had not issued arrest warrants in the case.
The media 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 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) initiated a discreet investigation against Zardari, into certain bank accounts through which multi-billion rupee transactions have been made after some information came to the fore when an intelligence agency picked up a prominent money changer in an unrelated 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 moto 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 Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which identified 11,500 bank accounts and 924 account holders at the start of their investigation. After the JIT report, 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 – allegedly by Zardari – 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.
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 joint investigation team (JIT) report and evidence collected was referred to NAB for further investigations.