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The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Saturday declared PPP-Parliamentarians President Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur absconders in a corruption case relating to fake accounts and fictitious transactions worth Rs35 billion, DawnNewsTV reported.

The case was initially registered against former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Hussain Lawai, who is widely believed to be close to former president Asif Ali Zardari, and other bankers in connection with an ongoing probe into a massive money laundering scam.

Lawai and other bankers were accused of facilitating opening of 29 ‘fake’ accounts in Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and United Bank Limited, where ‘beneficiaries of the Sindh government’ had deposited Rs35 billion that was subsequently transferred to different accounts

In the case's interim charge sheet dated July 21, 2018, Zardari and Talpur's names appeared in the list of absconding accused persons along with their addresses.

Additionally, Zardari's close aide Anwar Majeed and his son were also named in the list of absconders which contains the names of 20 individuals.

FIA chief holds grudge against PPP, alleges Zardari

Commenting on the FIA’s decision, Zardari termed it political victimisation claiming that FIA DG Bashir Memon was working on an anti-PPP agenda.

Amir Fida Paracha, the spokesperson for the former president, said that Memon’s brother is contesting election from Sindh as a Grand Democratic Alliance candidate, which is why the FIA chief is trying to “influence these elections in favour of his brother using his official position”.

Paracha argued that the report submitted by the FIA before the apex court never mentioned Zardari as an accused. He termed the decision by FIA an act of “maligning and politically damaging Zardari who is contesting election for a National Assembly seat from Sindh”.

The Supreme Court on July 12 had restrained the FIA from pursuing its investigation in the fake bank accounts case till the coming general elections are over.

“We do not want excuses that the July 25 elections are rigged,” Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar had observed.

The names of Zardari and Talpur had been included in the ECL on July 8 on the request of the FIA along with those of five others accused in the scam.

CJP Nisar denied that he had ordered the two PPP leaders' names to be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL). However, the interior ministry had then claimed that their names had been included in the list on the orders of the apex court.

In the latest development to date on the ECL issue, the interior ministry on Thursday removed their names from the list — as they were deemed not to be involved — and sent copies of a notification issued in this regard to all the authorities concerned.

A judicial magistrate (South) had on Thursday granted the investigating officer three days to submit an investigation report in the case.