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Zardari, Talpur appear before FIA; record statements in money laundering case


News Analysis |

Former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur have appeared before a joint investigation team of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Islamabad to record their statement in a multi-billion rupee money laundering and fake bank accounts case lodged against them in 2015. The other culprits in the case include the former President’s close aide Hussain Luwai, the former Chairman of the Pakistan Stock Exchange.

The Sindhi power siblings, who had contracted bail before arrest last month, along with several PPP leaders including former Prime Ministers Yousaf Raza Gillani and Raja Pervez Ashraf, the leader of opposition in Senate Sherry Rehman and former Governer GB Qamar Zaman Kaira, reached the FIA Islamabad directorate amid tight security.

The Prime Minister’s Special Assistant for Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar told Dr. Moeed Pirzada on his prime-time show at Dunya TV that the Prime Minister’s vision is clear on the subject.

There, an FIA team grilled the siblings on fake accounts and transactions associated with them. Later, while talking to the media, Asif Zardari termed the case politically motivated. “It is a fake case and unfortunately the case against me was filed during the tenure of Nawaz Sharif. It was filed on the behest of Mian Sahab,” he proclaimed.

“The FIA (officials) can ask whatever they want, but the crux of the matter is [the] facts [speak otherwise],” the PPP Chairman said when asked about the inquiry. Zardari and Talpur are being investigated as part of a corruption case relating to fake accounts and fictitious bank transactions worth Rs35 billion. The siblings face allegations that they had illegally channeled funds through the aforementioned accounts in connivance with the CEOs of major private banks.

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Last month, Mr. Luwai and banker Taha Raza were detained and booked for allegedly facilitating the registration of 29 fictitious accounts, through which suspicious transactions were made to different companies, including M/s Zardari Group.

Commenting on the accountability plan of action of the current regime for the rich and powerful, the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant for Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar told Dr. Moeed Pirzada on his prime-time show at Dunya TV that the Prime Minister’s vision is clear on the subject: there has been a task force constituted specifically for coordinating with investigative authorities and foreign countries that money has been laundered to. Previously, he said, the procedures were slow and there was no inter-authority coordination.

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Also amongst a few prominent leaders facing charges are Speaker of the Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, former Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujat Hussain, former Sindh Minister Sharjeel Memon, PML (Q) leader Moonis Elahi and PTI leader and MPA Punjab Assembly Aleem Khan.

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