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Asif Zardari, Faryal Talpur appear before FIA in money laundering probe

Updated August 27, 2018

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Asif Zardari and Faryal Talpur while leaving the FIA Islamabad directorate.— DawnNews
Asif Zardari and Faryal Talpur while leaving the FIA Islamabad directorate.— DawnNews

Former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur appeared before a joint investigation team of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Islamabad to record their statement in a multi-billion rupee money laundering and fake bank accounts case open against them.

The two, along with several PPP leaders — including Yousaf Raza Gillani, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Sherry Rehman and Qamar Zaman Kaira — reached the FIA Islamabad directorate amid tight security.

There, an FIA team questioned the siblings on fake accounts and transactions associated with them.

Zardari, while talking to the media, shrugged off the proceedings.

"It is a fake case and unfortunately the case against me was filed during the tenure of Nawaz Sharif. It was filed on the behest of Mian Sahab," he regretted.

"The FIA (officials) can ask whatever they want, but the crux of the matter is [the] facts [speak otherwise]," the PPP supremo said when asked about the probe.

Later on, PPPP Secretary General Farhatullah Babar, in a letter addressed to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), claimed that contrary to media reports Zardari and Talpur were not asked any questions or given any questionnaires by the FIA.

"It is not correct that Asif Zardari was asked some questions about the Zardari Group of Companies," Babar stated. "It is also wrong to say that both Zardari and Faryal Talpur were handed over questionnaires."

Babar urged the media regulator to "prevent the broadcast of fabricated and false reports" and take "strong and decisive action" against the channels who allegedly misreported.

Zardari and Talpur are being investigated as part of a corruption case relating to fake accounts and fictitious bank transactions worth Rs35 billion. The siblings face allegations that they had illegally channelled funds through the said accounts in connivance with the CEOs of major banks.

The case was initially registered in 2015 against former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Hussain Lawai, who is widely believed to be close to former president Asif Ali Zardari.

Later, seven individuals, including Zardari and Talpur, were said to have been found involved in using those accounts for suspicious transactions which totalled Rs35 billion. The accounts were allegedly used to channel funds received through kickbacks.

Last month, Lawai and banker Taha Raza were detained and booked for allegedly facilitating the opening of 29 ‘fake’ accounts through which suspicious transactions were made to different companies, including M/s Zardari Group.

Initially, Zardari and Talpur avoided appearing before the agency and expressed their distrust in the FIA officials, but later joined the probe after a banking court in Karachi issued their arrest warrents. The two had obtained protective bail in the case.