Zardari’s acquittal plea in Park Lane case rejected

Updated 08 Aug 2020

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Accountability court to indict ex-president Asif Ali Zardari on August 10. — Online/File
Accountability court to indict ex-president Asif Ali Zardari on August 10. — Online/File

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court here on Friday dismissed the application seeking acquittal of former president Asif Ali Zardari in the Park Lane case and decided to indict him on Aug 10.

The court also dismissed another application of Mr Zardari that challenged the accountability court’s jurisdiction and sought transfer of the case to a banking court.

Accountability Court Judge Mohammad Azam Khan was set to indict Mr Zardari last month, but deferred the indictment after Farooq H. Naek, the counsel for Mr Zardari, filed the application.

Last month, two former presidents of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) turned approver against Mr Zardari in the Park Lane reference.

Subsequently, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which had nominated former NBP presidents Ali Raza and Qamar Hussain as accused in the case, changed their status and included them in the list of prosecution witnesses.

Accountability court to indict ex-president on 10th

According to NAB, Mr Raza in his confessional statement claimed that Omni Group’s director Abdul Ghani Majeed was a ‘go through’ between the NBP senior management and Mr Zardari as he conveyed them his message regarding approval of loan.

Mr Zardari has been accused of being involved in obtaining loan and its misappropriation by M/s Parthenon Private Limited, M/s Park Lane Estate Private Limited and others.

Earlier, Mr Naek argued during the hearing that Mr Zardari was a director of M/s Park Lane, but resigned from the company in 2008 before assuming the office of president of Pakistan.

He said the board of directors of the company accepted the resignation of Mr Zardari, but it could not communicate the matter to the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan in time.

The lawyer said NAB had overlooked the financial laws while filing the reference against his client. He argued that NAB could not have proceeded in the case without mandatory approval/reference of the State Bank of Pakistan against Mr Zardari.

He said the credit committee of the NBP had approved the loan for M/s Parthenon, but NAB did not implicate even a single official of the bank in the reference, adding that those who might be an accused in the case had been listed as prosecution witnesses.

NAB’s Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi argued before the court that the former president used his influence to secure loan from the banks. He said it was also a case of money laundering since the accused transferred the money abroad through illegal means.

Thatta water supply case

The accountability court also took up Thatta water supply reference. The court was supposed to indict Mr Zardari in this reference on Aug 4. However, the former president has also filed an application seeking his acquittal in the reference.

The court put of hearing arguments in this case till Sept 7.

The same court also dismissed two identical petitions of former president of the Sindh Bank Bilal Sheikh in Sindh Bank corruption and money laundering references.

The court also dismissed acquittal pleas of seven other co-accused of namely Tariq Ehsan, Safdar Qazi, Asad Ali Shah, Masooma Hussain, Javed Hussain, Abdul Rauf Chandio and Shariq Husnain Jaleesi.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2020