ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Wednesday rejected the plea of former president and leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party Asif Ali Zardari seeking to quash three references related to fake bank accounts case.

Judge Azam Khan of the accountability court of Islamabad, who had reserved his judgement on the plea last week, also summoned all suspects including Mr Zardari in the case for September 28.

Mr Zardari through his counsel Farooq H. Naek had challenged the filing of the supplementary references in the ongoing cases of money laundering, Park Lane and Thatta water supply project.

Meanwhile, a division bench of the Islamabad High Court comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani took up Mr Zardari’s petition seeking pre-arrest bail in a bank transaction case.

IHC allows NAB to file report in fake accounts case by mid October

The case is related to a suspicious transaction of Rs8.3 billion from Bahria Town through joint accounts of assistant private secretary Mushtaq and Zain Malik, son-in-law of property tycoon Malik Riaz, into fake accounts.

While the court had granted pre-arrest interim bail to Mr Zardari in this case on June 18, 2019, the bail has yet to be confirmed.

Mr Zain has recently secured release in three under-trial cases and three investigations through a plea bargain with NAB. He undertook to mortgage his six properties and pay Rs4 billion in one case, Rs170 million in another and Rs37 million in the third case to NAB, Rawalpindi directorate, in three years. He will pay the amount in instalments on a quarterly basis.

Deputy prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi told the IHC that the bureau had initiated an inquiry leading to a detailed investigation.

The court, however, asked the NAB official to file the investigation report by October 15 and adjourned the case till then.

Mr Zardari has been facing multiple cases, based on a mega money laundering scandal, which came into the limelight before the July 2018 general elections. The former president, his sister Faryal Talpur and several other businessmen were being probed as part of the 2015 case regarding fictitious transactions worth Rs35 billion conducted through 29 ‘benami’ accounts in Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and UBL.

The former president is accused of being involved “in extending loan and its misappropriation by M/s Parthenon Private Limited, M/s Park Lane Estate Private Limited and others”.

According to NAB, the Park Lane company was used as a “front company” to siphon off ill-gotten money. His lawyer argued that the PPP leader had been a director of M/s Park Lane, but he had resigned from the company in 2008 before assuming the office of the president of Pakistan.

The Thatta water supply company case pertains to illegal award of a contract by the Sindh Special Initiative Department for water supply scheme in Thatta to a private contractor, Harish & Co.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2020