ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has arrested two former bankers for their alleged involvement in the fake bank accounts case.
According to NAB Rawalpindi, the two officials of a leading private bank, Sher Ali and Mohammad Farooq Abdullah, were allegedly involved in extending loan to Parthenon Private Ltd, a front company of Park Lane Estate, owned by former president Asif Zardari.
The anti-graft watchdog stated that suspect Abdullah was former area manager and branch manager of Habib Bank Limited (HBL), Karachi, and Sher was ex-manager (operations) at the bank.
NAB claims they were involved in extending loan to a front company of Zardari’s Park Lane Estate
The fake bank accounts and money laundering case is being investigated against the former president, his sister Faryal Talpur, real estate tycoon Malik Riaz and others.
The NAB investigation said the principal accused in the case in connivance with the manager of Park Lane firm, Mohammad Hanif, managed to obtain Rs1.5 billion loan from HBL and withdrew the proceed in cash and got prepared pay orders in the name of fake persons to hide the beneficial owners.
A couple of months ago the NAB headquarters had shifted the case against 172 suspects including PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Asif Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, former chief minister Qaim Ali Shah, incumbent minister Anwar Siyal and Bahria Town owner Malik Riaz from Karachi to Rawalpindi.
Their names had already been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) to ban their foreign travel. However, the names of Mr Bilawal and incumbent CM Murad Ali Shah had been removed from the ECL on a directive of the Supreme Court.
NAB Rawalpindi had also formed a Combined Investigation Team (CIT) to probe into the case. Headed by Rawalpindi NAB DG Irfan Naeem Mangi, the CIT had started its function in January.
The apex court in a recent judgement had directed the anti-graft watchdog to file references against the accused in accountability court Rawalpindi/ Islamabad and not at Karachi.
In this specific case, special assistant to the prime minister on accountability Shahzad Akbar had said the NAB would not go for inquiry but would start investigation on the basis of inquiry conducted by Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed by the Supreme Court.
In the JIT report, 172 people have been accused for having fake bank accounts and money laundering and recommended filing of 16 different references against them.
According to the SC’s order given on Jan 14, 172 accused persons including the former president, his sister and Bahria Town owner Malik Riaz will continue to face travel ban.
The apex court asked NAB to conclude its investigation within two months which means that those to be found guilty of corruption would have two options: either face a reference or ask for a plea bargain.
Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2019