Former president Zardari and Talpur appear before accountability court in Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: Former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur appeared before an accountability court in Islamabad on Tuesday (today) in a case pertaining to money laundering through fictitious bank accounts.

Accountability court judge Arshad Malik heard the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) reference. The court had summoned 30 suspects, including Zardari, Talpur, Hussain Lawai, Anwar Majeed, AG Majeed and Adeel Shah Rashdi. 

During the hearing, the judge inquired, “What happened about the Noreen and Kiran’s petitions to the NAB chairman to become approvers?” The NAB prosecutor responded, “The petitions have been given to the chairman, however, a decision has not yet been made.”

Judge Malik directed that the court be informed regarding the NAB chairman’s decision.

As the hearing went under way, the court expressed anger over the absence of suspects Azam Wazir Khan and Nasir and issued bailable arrest warrants for them. 

Bailable arrest warrants were issued for suspect Iqbal Arain as well. However, when the investigation officer said that Arain has passed away as per their information, the court summoned his death certificate at the next hearing. 

The court also issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Adnan Javed and ordered that he be arrested and presented before court at the next hearing. The investigation officer told the court, “We are searching for the suspect and could not find him on the address given.”

NAB Prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi informed the court that five suspects are in custody at Malir jail. “The five suspects could not be presented and directions should be issued to the authorities that had to present them,” Abbasi said. 

The court then issued summons for the suspects once again through the Sindh chief secretary. 

The hearing of the case was adjourned till April 29. 

During the last hearing on April 8, two accused offered to become approvers. Kiran and Noreen – two of the 30 accused in the case – requested the court that they be allowed to testify as witnesses.

The case

The FIA is investigating 32 people in relation to money laundering from fictitious accounts, including Zardari and Talpur. Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai was arrested in July last year in connection with the probe.

The former president’s other close aide and Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed a close aide and Omni Group chairman and his son, Abdul Ghani, were arrested by FIA in August 2018.

Over 20 ‘benami’ accounts at some private banks were opened in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from where transactions worth billions of rupees were made, according to official.

The amount, according to FIA official, is said to be black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.