A banking court in Karachi on Friday issued non-bailable warrants of arrest against PPP co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari in the fake bank accounts scam case, Radio Pakistan reported.
The court also issued non-bailable arrest warrants against other absconding suspects, including Nasser Abdullah Lootah, Aslam Masood, Nimr Majeed, Arif Khan, Adnan Javed, Mohammad Umair, Mohammad Iqbal Arain, Azam Wazir Khan, Zain Malik and Mustafa Zulqernain.
While hearing the case relating to the money laundering probe, the court directed authorities to arrest and present Zardari and other suspects before it by September 4.
However, PPP spokesperson Farhatullah Babar issued a statement in which he quoted Zardari's counsel Farooq H. Naek as saying that no warrants against the former president have been issued.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had declared Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur, along with 18 other suspects, as absconders in an interim charge sheet filed in the case. Talpur had, however, obtained a bail against her arrest.
The fake accounts case revolves around a 2015 inquiry into suspicious transactions when 29 ‘benami’ accounts were identified, 16 of them in the Summit Bank, eight in the Sindh Bank and five in the United Bank Limited.
Seven individuals were found involved in suspiciously transacting Rs35 billion. Hussain Lawai, former chairman of the Pakistan Stock Exchange and a close aide of Zardari, Omni Group of Companies chairman Khawaja Anvar Majeed and his son Ghani Majeed, and co-accused Taha Raza – head of the Summit Bank’s corporate unit – have been arrested in the case.
The court extended the physical remand of Anvar and his son Ghani until August 24 after they were presented for the hearing by the FIA.
The FIA prosecutor had sought a 14-day remand of the suspects for investigation, saying they are accused of laundering billions of rupees through fake bank accounts.
Farooq H. Naek, the counsel representing Majeed, opposed the plea for remand. After hearing both sides, the court approved a week-long extension in the remand.
Naek said it was Zardari's discretion to decide whether he wants to join the investigation or not, adding that the former president has "always faced the law".
Zardari is ready to cooperate with the FIA, he said.