NAB chairman nod sought to arrest Zardari, IHC told

Updated May 30, 2019

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The Islamabad High Court bench regretted that the National Accountability Bureau was not assisting the court in a proper manner. ─ Online/File
The Islamabad High Court bench regretted that the National Accountability Bureau was not assisting the court in a proper manner. ─ Online/File

ISLAMABAD: The National Accounta­bility Bureau (NAB) wants to arrest former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur in a case relating to transaction of Rs150 million to their private company through alleged fake bank accounts.

A NAB officer investigating the fake bank accounts case informed a division bench of the Islamabad High Court comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani on Wednesday that the investigation team had sought approval from the NAB chairman for the arrest of Mr Zardari and his sister.

The bench hearing the pre-arrest bail of Mr Zardari and his sister regretted that NAB was not assisting the court in a proper manner and warned of issuing show-cause notices to the prosecution and the investigation team since the investigation officer did not bring the record on the basis of which he connected the individuals with the fake account transactions.

When the court asked the investigation officer to share the documents on the basis of which he connected the former president and his sister with the fake account, NAB additional prosecutor general Jahanzeb Bharwana said that an interim challan filed by the FIA alleged that both were beneficiaries of this account.

Farooq H. Naek, the counsel for Mr Zardari, argued that contrary to the much-created hype of billions of rupees of transactions through the fake accounts, the prosecution could produce evidence of Rs150m transactions. He said that both Mr Zardari and his sister were leading sugarcane growers in the region and they sold their crops to the Omni Group and in return received cash through banks. He claimed that the amount of Rs150m was in fact the payment for sugarcane which they had sold to sugar mills owned by the Omni Group.

Bench regrets bureau not assisting court in proper manner and warns of issuing show-cause notices to prosecution, probe team

When the court asked how NAB termed the account in question fake, the prosecutor said it was opened without adhering to the proper procedure.

Mr Naek informed the court that the FIR registered in the fake accounts case did not nominate Mr Zardari or Ms Talpur, adding that the former president was implicated at a later stage and subsequently NAB transferred the case from a banking court in Karachi to an accountability court in Islamabad.

Mr Bharwana argued that the Supreme Court had empowered NAB to proceed with the matter and resultantly the NAB chairman had under Section 16-A of the NAO transferred the case from Karachi to Islamabad.

Taking up an identical petition filed by Shahzad Ali, chief executive officer of Sardar Mohammad Ashraf D. Baloch Company, the court expressed displeasure over the casual attitude of the NAB prosecution and investigation officer.

Mr Ali’s counsel Raja Rizwan Abbasi informed the court that his client had transferred Rs100m to the account of the Omni Group for purchasing construction machinery, but despite providing each and every detail to the investigation team, he was entangled with this case.

Officials of Summit Bank also appeared before the court and argued that NAB had implicated them in this case without any reason.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2019