The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has reportedly decided to approach the Supreme Court (SC) for the cancellation of the post-arrest bail granted to former president Asif Ali Zardari in the Park Lane Estate Company and the money laundering through fake bank accounts cases. Political analysts maintain that the former President is unlikely to be arrested yet again since he has decided not to confront the establishment anymore. Therefore, sources claim that PPP’s chairman is likely to have relief in future.
— Times of lsIamabad (@TimesofIslambad) February 12, 2020
However, such perceptions about ‘out of court political settlements’ may irk Prime Minister Imran Khan who always stood up against corruption and money laundering. He has reiterated his vision of Naya Pakistan on many occasion and re-affirmed his resolve to bring the looted money back to Pakistan.
According to media reports, the NAB Rawalpindi has prepared an application that will be filed in the apex court after approval of the bureau’s prosecutor general. The application maintains that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had granted bail to Zardari while ignoring previous judicial decisions.
— GNN (@gnnhdofficial) January 22, 2020
On December 12, 2019, the PPP co-chairman was released from custody at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) which was declared a sub-jail on the orders of the IHC on medical grounds. The bail was granted on December 11 against surety bonds of Rs20 million after staying under NAB’s detention for six months.
The court had noted that the petitioner, who is one of the accused in a reference pending before an accountability court, “has not been convicted and, therefore, he is to be treated as innocent unless proven guilty”
Zardari was arrested in June after his bail application was rejected in connection to the fake bank accounts case. According to the anti-corruption watchdog, Zardari fraudulently obtained Rs1.5 billion in loans for his Park Lane Company through other firms. The bureau has alleged that Zardari, in connivance with the former prime minister and fellow party leader Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, illegally obtained three luxury bullet-proof cars, two BMWs and one Toyota Lexus from the Toshakhana (the state gift repository), which were gifted by the governments of UAE and Libya.
Mr. Zardari is accused of misuse of authority which resulted in a heavy loss to the national exchequer. Zardari has threatened the sitting government that he will topple it. Analysts believe that when Zardari saw that diplomatic channels were not workable he decided to confront PTI by threats of a long march which did not work out either.
On November 12, 2019, an accountability court in Islamabad had rejected Zardari’s application for transferring him to Karachi for his ongoing medical treatment.
On July 29, 2019, an accountability court issued copies of the Park Lane reference against Zardari which stated that the former president had taken Rs1.5 billion loan from the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in the name of fake company Parthenon.
On July 1, 2019, NAB had arrested Zardari in the Park Lane case while he was already in custody with the bureau’s Rawalpindi directorate in connection with the fake accounts case.
On June 26, 2019, the PPP co-chairman had withdrawn his bail applications in three cases saying he knew why he was suffering and “does not want to embarrass anyone”.
He withdrew his applications seeking bail in Park Lane, Tosha Khana luxury vehicles and bulletproof vehicles references filed against him by NAB.
On June 10, 2019, Zardari had surrendered himself to a team of NAB after the IHC rejected his and his sister Faryal Talpur’s pre-arrest bail plea in the money laundering case.
The accountability watchdog had arrested him in June after the cancellation of his pre-arrest bail by the IHC in the fake bank accounts case.
At that time, the NAB had stated that it was proved during the investigation of the case that PPP leader had done corruption and money laundering with the help of his close aides. NAB had further stated the loans were taken by showing fake documents and those loans were then used for personal gains.
NAB to file references against Asif Ali Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, Yusuf Raza Gilani https://t.co/ntOR7Pik4T
— Shahid imran (@Shahid_511) January 17, 2020
According to the reference, Rs1.5 billion were taken in 2009 and Rs800 million were withdrawn in 2012. It had added that the NBP suffered a loss of Rs3.77 billion due to this fraud. It had further mentioned that Zardari, as the president, had forged documents to comply with the loan policy and coaxed the NBP into loan approval.
Zardari was a 25 per cent shareholder in the Park Lane Estate Company and he is accused of making a fake company, Parthenon, in the name of his employees. Besides, a property was also bought in the IBC Centre where the bureau has sealed eight floors.
As per the prosecution, the Park Lane case is being investigated under different sections of National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999, and Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010, for Zardari’s alleged involvement “in extending loan and its misappropriation by M/S Parthenon Private Limited, M/S Park Lane Estate Private Limited and others”.
It is yet to be seen whether the NAB shall be able to defend its position before the court or not. Apparently, the case seems to be grounded on a strong basis and has factual data to be backed by.