Money laundering case: FIA to approach SC over, Zardari, Talpur's non-appearance

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has decided to approach the Supreme Court over non-appearance of Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur before the joint investigation team (JIT) probing a Rs35 billion money laundering case.

On August 1, the FIA had issued notices to Zardari and Talpur to appear before a JIT in Islamabad. But the duo again failed to appear before the FIA team today.
Talpur also demanded removal of the head of a joint investigation team formed on the FIA’s directives to probe money-laundering allegations against them. Citing reservations against JIT head Najaf Mirza, Talpur’s counsel Farooq H. Naik petitioned the FIA on Saturday to replace him and constitute a new investigative team to probe the matter.
Naik told media that Zardari had registered an FIR against Najaf Mirza back in 2005. Expressing his reservations against the JIT head, the counsel said a transparent investigation into the matter was not possible if Mirza was not replaced.
“We are ready to cooperate with the FIA,” Naik said, adding that Talpur could not appear before the JIT as she was in Larkana to submit her asset details.
He requested for a new date for his client to appear before the JIT.
Meanwhile, the FIA decided to approach the apex court with regard to non-appearance of the former president and his sister in the case.
It has been learnt that the agency decided to prepare a notice for the sake of any investigation in the light of court orders.
The FIA has also prepared a report pertaining to its investigations in the case so far, which would be submitted with the Supreme Court on the next hearing of the case.
On Friday, Official had informed media that a team of FIA officials had collected evidence in the Rs35 billion money laundering case, and handed it over to the JIT.
According to the official, money trail of Rs23 billion out of Rs35 billion had been obtained so far.
The official had said that the JIT had decided not to register further cases with regard to money laundering until the next hearing of the case by the Supreme Court on August 6.

The probe

The FIA is investigating 32 people in relation to money laundering from fictitious accounts, including Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur. Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai was arrested last month in connection with the probe.
The FIA inquiry started when the financial monitoring unit of the State Bank of Pakistan generated a ‘suspicious transaction report’ in January this year regarding ten bank accounts.
Official maintain that over 20 ‘benami’ accounts at a private bank were opened in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from where transactions worth billions of rupees were made. The amount according to FIA official is said to be black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.
But despite these huge transactions, the bank authorities never reported them to the authorities concerned including the FIA.