KARACHI: A banking court on Thursday extended the interim pre-arrest bail of former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and nine other suspects till March 5 in an ongoing money laundering case.
Zardari, Talpur and nine other suspects, including Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed, his son AG Majeed, former Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) chairman Hussain Lawai and banker Taha Raza, appeared before the court in Karachi as the interim pre-arrest bail granted to them in the case ended today.
As the hearing went under way, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) prosecutor told the court, “There is no justification to hear the suspects’ bail petitions.” At this, the counsel of Zardari and Talpur, Farooq H Naek, said, “It is the FIA’s responsibility to present a final challan.”
The court then asked Investigation Officer Muhammad Ali Abro regarding headway made in the case. “On the Supreme Court’s order, we are transferring the case record to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB),” the investigation officer responded.
However, Zardari’s counsel upheld, “The SC did not order that a NAB reference be filed and directed further investigation.” The court then remarked, “The prosecutor should either submit a challan or a petition to transfer the case.” At this, the FIA prosecutor said, “The record is being transferred and we are in contact with NAB officials.”
Further, the investigation officer said, “At every hearing, I have submitted a request for time to submit a final challan.”
After hearing the arguments, the court accepted Naek’s request for an extension in his client’s interim pre-arrest bail.
The hearing of the case has been adjourned till March 5.
The FIA is investigating 32 people in relation to money laundering from fictitious accounts, including Zardari and Talpur. Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai was arrested in July in connection with the probe.
The former president’s other close aide and Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed a close aide and Omni Group chairman and his son, Abdul Ghani, were arrested by FIA in August.
Over 20 ‘benami’ accounts at some private banks were opened in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from where transactions worth billions of rupees were made, according to sources.
The amount, according to FIA sources, is said to be black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.