ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has requested the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to dismiss a plea seeking pre-arrest bail for former president and co-chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari in the fake bank accounts case.

In a written reply submitted to the IHC on Friday, NAB explained the reasons why it opposed grant of bail to Mr Zardari.

On Wednesday the court had extended interim bails of Mr Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur till April 29 and directed NAB to furnish details of ongoing and pending inquiries against the PPP leader.

Says former president could get relevant records altered if he is not taken into custody

In its reply, the anti-graft watchdog alleged the former president could get the relevant records altered if he was not taken into custody. It also accused him of refusing to cooperate with the team of investigators.

According to NAB, Mr Zardari fraudulently obtained Rs1.5 billion in loans for his company called Park Lane Limited through other firms.

“M/s Park Lane Estate (Pvt) Limited obtained fraudulent loan of Rs1.5bn through a front company M/s Parthenon (Pvt) Limited from the National Bank of Pakistan and Summit Bank and collusively restructured/serviced it to the tune of Rs2.8bn,” said the bureau in its reply.

It also claimed the former president, in connivance with former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani, illegally obtained three luxury bulletproof cars — two BMWs and one Toyota Lexus — that were gifted by the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Libya from the Toshakhana (the state gift repository).

According to NAB, the vehicles “were meant to be submitted to the central pool of cars of Cabinet Division, Government of Pakistan. However, the petitioner, in connivance with Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani, ex-prime minister of Pakistan, retained the said vehicles at the rate of 15 per cent of total assessed value for his personal interests after getting illegal relaxation of Toshakhana procedure of acceptance and disposal of gifts”.

NAB said that Mr Zardari paid Rs37.16 million as duty/tax on the said vehicles through cheques from the fake accounts in question.

It alleged “the petitioner obtained undue concession in the shape of bulletproof vehicles, thus resulting in wrongful loss to the national exchequer”.

“NAB has collected documentary evidence in accordance with the law,” it added. “However, it is the petitioner [who] is not cooperating with NAB.

“Moreover, the petitioner remains in influential positions. Therefore, tampering [with] of evidence on his part cannot be ruled out.

“In view of above mentioned facts, it is respectfully prayed that the subject writ petition may graciously be dismissed in the interest of justice.”

The fake accounts case, through which billions were allegedly laundered, was registered in 2015 against former chairman of the Pakistan Stock Exchange Hussain Lawai, who is said to be close to Mr Zardari. Later, the names of the PPP co-chairperson and his sibling were added to the probe as they allegedly used the accounts under investigation.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2019