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KARACHI: Former president and Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday deposited a surety bond of Rs2 million in a banking court, which then granted him interim pre-arrest bail in a money laundering case.

On Friday, the former president was granted interim bail by the trial court, which had reissued non-bailable warrants for his arrest last month in the case pertaining to alleged laundering of Rs4.14 billion through fake bank accounts in connivance with bankers and others. However, the Rs2m surety could not be furnished till the court time. Therefore, Mr Zardari personally visited the banking court once again along with his counsel Farooq H. Naek and deposited the same.

Last month, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) detained former chairman of the Pakistan Stock Exchange Hussain Lawai and banker Taha Raza and booked them for allegedly facilitating opening of 29 ‘fake’ accounts through which suspicious transactions were made to different companies.

Former president deposits Rs2 million surety bond

It alleged that one account in the title of A-One International, was fraudulently opened by using Tariq Sultan’s name in Summit Bank and subsequently, this bank account was used to place illegitimate funds for the purpose of money laundering, stated the FIR, adding that the account statement showed that from March 6, 2014 to Jan 12, 2015 a sum of Rs4.145bn was credited and routed through this account.

The money was allegedly transferred to 13 different business entities, including Zardari Group — a company owned by Mr Zardari and his sister Faryal — which received Rs15m, it added.

On July 21, FIA Assistant Director Muhammad Ali Abro filed an interim charge sheet in the court, showing Mr Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur among 20 alleged beneficiaries of the suspicious bank transactions, as absconders.

The list of the alleged absconders also included businessman Anwar Majeed, his four sons, Shahzad Ali, Zain Malik and 15 others.

Therefore, Mr Zardari on Aug 18 obtained a protective/transitory pre-arrest bail from the Islamabad High Court, which directed him to surrender before the trial court till Sept 3.

Surrendering before the trial court, Mr Zardari also moved an application for interim bail before arrest, arguing that he was the president of Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarian and also remained president of the country from 2008 to 2013.

Advocate Naek argued that being leader of a major political party the rivals of his client had been trying to involve him in false criminal cases.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2018