Former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, and a witness recorded their statements before the Supreme Court-appointed Joint Investigation Team (JIT) tasked with probing a multi-billion rupee money laundering and fake bank accounts case open against them.
PPP lawmaker Faryal Talpur appeared before the JIT at 12pm at an office located in Karachi's Gulistan-i-Johar area on Wednesday and answered questions pertaining to the transfer of money to the Zardari Group through fake bank accounts.
Sources privy to this development told Dawn that the lady lawmaker informed the JIT members that their lawyer, Abu Bakar Zardari was looking after their “legal and financial affairs”. Therefore, he would be in a better position to respond to their questions. She left after half an hour.
Subsequently, Abu Bakar was summoned and his statement was recorded.
Following his sister's departure, Zardari appeared before the JIT at 2pm and had his statement recorded in a one-and-a-half-hour-long session.
During this time he contended that after assuming the presidency of Pakistan in 2008, he had resigned from all his businesses and economic ventures as per the relevant laws.
The PPP co-chairman argued that since then he has not been involved in any economic activity.
Zardari also claimed that after becoming president, he had also resigned from the directorship of Zardari Group, one of the groups allegedly involved in the fake bank accounts and was no more associated with it in any capacity.
The JIT has decided to seek information from PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari as well in the pursuance of this case. According to Bilawal's spokesperson Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Bilawal has already received the questionnaire sent to him for the purpose.
The party chief will send his response following a consultation with his legal team. He has till November 29 to respond.
The mega corruption case
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.
On July 6, 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 warrants. The two had obtained protective bail in the case.