The Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday that the names of former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur had been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) on the Supreme Court's (SC) orders.
The directives were issued to the Interior Ministry by the apex court in connection with an ongoing suo motu case concerning an investigation into fake accounts and fictitious transactions worth billions conducted through several mainstream banks. The fake accounts were allegedly used for channelling funds received through heavy bribes and kickbacks.
Seven individuals, including Zardari and Talpur, were said to be involved in using certain bank accounts for suspicious transactions totalling Rs35 billion.
The SC had ordered the Interior Ministry to place the names of all suspected beneficiaries ─ including Zardari and Talpur ─ and accused persons identified in the case on the ECL, "so that they may not leave the country until the investigation in the matter is concluded or till further orders passed by this court".
Caretaker Interior Minister Azam Khan confirmed today that the SC had directed the ministry to place Zardari and Talpur's names on the ECL on Monday, and that the ministry had complied with the orders.
However, earlier this week, certain sections of the media quoted ministry officials as denying these reports.
A day after the SC's order for placement of the names of all those connected to the case on the ECL, the FIA constituted a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), headed by FIA Sindh chief Munir Ahmed Shaikh, to investigate the matter. The FIA had directed the duo to appear before the team on Wednesday to record their statements and explain their position on the accounts and transactions.
However, two junior lawyers appeared before FIA authorities on behalf of Zardari and Talpur seeking more time to provide information about the transactions, and said that since they were busy campaigning for the upcoming polls, they would only be available to respond to queries after July 25.
Since 2015, the FIA has been probing suspicious transactions made through 29 ‘benami’ accounts — 16 of which were held in Summit Bank, eight in Sindh Bank and five in UBL.
Zardari's close friend and former Pakistan Stock Exchange Chairman Hussain Lawai, along with Summit Bank’s corporate unit head Taha Raza, have been taken into FIA custody in connection with the case.