The National Accountability Bureau has summoned former president Asif Ali Zardari and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to appear before the bureau in Rawalpindi in connection with the Park Lane Estate case, a spokesperson for the bureau told DawnNewsTV on Saturday.
NAB had initiated an inquiry against the father-son duo in pursuance of allegations that Park Lane Estate Company (Pvt) Ltd — a Karachi-based real estate firm co-owned by Zardari and Bilawal — along with government officials were behind the illegal transfer of forest land to the firm.
According to the spokesperson, Zardari had acquired the company illegally through a front man, Iqbal Memon, in 1989. In 2009, Zardari and Bilawal became shareholders of the company.
"Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto have a stake of 25 per cent each in the company," said the spokesperson adding that Zardari had the authority to use the company accounts at his discretion as the director of the firm.
To lend credence to his claim, the spokesperson added that company documents dating back to the year 2008 show Zardari's signatures on them as the director.
The spokesperson, while confirming the development to DawnNewsTV, said that Faryal Talpur has not been summoned to the NAB office as yet.
PPP spokesperson Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, however, sent out a statement yesterday denying that Bilawal or Zardari had received any notices from NAB.
Adviser to Chief Minister of Sindh on Information Murtaza Wahab repeated today that neither Bilawal nor Zardari had received any notices from NAB, and that NAB seemed to be attempting to "harass" the two by issuing statements to the contrary.
"Has NAB been reduced to character assassination only?" he asked.
Zardari challenges transfer of fake accounts case to Rawalpindi
Zardari on Saturday challenged in the Sindh High Court a banking court's earlier decision to allow NAB to move the fake bank accounts case to an accountability court in Rawalpindi.
Last month, a NAB prosecutor had filed a statement with the trial court on behalf of NAB chairman 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.
Following the arguments, the court had reserved its verdict earlier this week. Yesterday, the court announced the verdict, allowing the case to be transferred from Karachi to Rawalpindi.
Subsequently, the banking court cancelled the interim bails granted to Zardari, Talpur and others as the case had been transferred to a different court.
Asking for a nullification of the banking court's verdict, the petition submitted in SHC said that the orders to move the case to Rawalpindi are illegal.
Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur both visited the SHC today. Talpur is also expected to submit an application against the banking court's orders today.
At the banking court, Zardari's counsel, Farooq H. Naek, had argued that there were "no grounds" for transferring the case to Rawalpindi and pointed out that the top court had ordered that NAB conclude its investigation within two months, which he said had already lapsed. He further said that it was "important to review" Section 16-A (transfer of cases) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.