KARACHI: A banking court on Monday issued notices to the defence counsel for Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and others for arguments on a request made by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman seeking transfer of an alleged fake bank accounts and Rs4.14 billion money laundering case against them to the accountability court of Rawalpindi for trial.
Pakistan Stock Exchange’s former chairman Hussain Lawai, Taha Raza, M/s Omni Group’s chairman Anver Majeed and his sons and Zain Malik, the son-in-law of real estate tycoon Malik Riaz along with other bankers and businessmen have been booked and detained by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) over allegedly facilitating opening of 29 fake bank accounts and money laundering.
Mr Zardari and Ms Talpur have also been named among the suspects and have been granted pre-arrest bail in the case by the banking court.
Last week, Judge Tariq Mehmood Khoso inquired from the FIA prosecutor about the fate of a summary purportedly sent to the NAB chairman seeking his nod for transfer of the case to the anti-graft watchdog after he (prosecutor) informed the record of the case was being shifted to NAB and expressed inability to proceed with the case. The court also extended interim bail granted to the suspects till March 5.
Alongside ex-president, Faryal and other suspects are facing the fake bank accounts and money laundering case
On Monday, a NAB prosecutor filed a statement with the trial court on behalf of NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal, stating that the investigation of the case had been transferred to the anti-graft watchdog by the apex court. Therefore, he requested the trial court’s judge to transfer the proceedings of trial in the present case to the accountability court in Rawalpindi.
The prosecutor also submitted supporting documents, including approval recently accorded by the NAB chief to a summary seeking transfer of the case from the banking court to the accountability court of Rawalpindi in terms of the Section 16-A (transfer of cases) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.
The judge issued notices to the defence counsel for the detained suspects as well as those who have obtained interim pre-arrest bail in the present case to advance arguments on the NAB chief’s request on the next date and adjourned hearing till Feb 20.
Last month, the Supreme Court had referred the money laundering and fake accounts case to NAB and directed to probe the scam within two months.
Initially, the FIA detained Mr Lawai and Mr Raza in July for allegedly facilitating opening of 29 ‘fake’ bank accounts in three private banks. A case was later registered against all the suspects under Sections 419 (cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document) and 109 (abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 5(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 and Sections 3 and 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010.
Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2019