Zardari Group got Rs30m of Rs4.4bn suspicious transactions, Islamabad Court told

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) informed the Islamabad High Court that out of Rs4.4 billion suspicious transactions through a fictitious bank account, the company owned by former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur received only Rs30 million.

NAB investigation officer Mohammad Ali Abro, who is probing the fake bank accounts case, told a two-judge IHC bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had registered an FIR in the case in which Mr Zardari and his sister were also entangled at a later stage. The FIR was based on the suspicious transactions of Rs4.4bn, he added.

He said the account titled M/s A One International was fake and it received a sum of Rs4.4bn out of which Rs30m was paid to the Zardari Group at two different times. When the court asked the investigation officer if there was any evidence that showed the amount was proceeds of crime, he said it was being investigated.

ISLAMABAD: Former president Asif Ali Zardari along with her daughter Asifa Zardri after appear Islamabad High Court on Thursday, may 30, 2019. Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

Mr Abro said another company Park Lane Private Limited owned by the former president also received a huge amount from the same account. NAB has filed a separate reference in this case as well.

When Justice Kayani asked why NAB had filed multiple references when these could be filed as a single case, NAB’s Additional Prosecutor General Jahanzeb Bharwana said the Supreme Court had directed the anti-graft watchdog to file multiple references.

During the hearing, the IHC bench extended the interim bail of Mr Zardari and Ms Talpur, as well as some other accused persons.

Mr Bharwana informed the court that there was nothing against Khawaja Nimar Majeed and three officials of the Summit Bank and NAB was not going to arrest them in the fake accounts case. Subsequently, the IHC disposed of their petitions.

Giving some details of the fake accounts case, Mr Bahrwana said the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) under the directive of the Supreme Court had traced 28 fake accounts where the ostensible account holders disassociated themselves from the accounts. He said the FIA initially registered the FIR in the fake accounts case under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code, Prevention of Corruption Act and Anti Money Laundering Act. A challan was submitted to a banking court in Karachi, whereas the NAB chairman in the light of the SC directive transferred these cases to an accountability court of Islamabad.

Naek’s press conference

Farooq H. Naek, the counsel for Mr Zardari and Ms Talpur, claimed at a press conference that the former president had nothing to do with the references filed by NAB because he was a minority shareholder in the Zardari Group. He said the Zardari Group was a private firm that received Rs30m from a bank account.

According to Mr Naek, this amount was paid by sugar mills owned by the Omni Group for sugarcane crops of Mr Zardari and his sister.

He said the case was originally registered with the Karachi FIA and tried in the banking court from where it was transferred to the Rawalpindi NAB. Mr Zardari had challenged the transfer of the case and the matter was pending before the Supreme Court, he added.