Zardari moves IHC for pre-arrest bail in fake accounts case

Court to hear PPP co-chairman’s disqualification petition on April 4


Our Correspondent March 27, 2019
Former president also requested the court to instruct NAB to reveal the details of the ongoing cases against him. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC), seeking pre-arrest bail after the fake accounts case was transferred from Karachi to an accountability court in Rawalpindi.

Fearing arrest, Zardari submitted a petition in the IHC for bail and to pre-empt any attempt by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to take him into custody. The former president stated that NAB had already summoned him thrice and he feared arrest in unknown number of inquiries being initiated against him.

Zardari, and his sister Faryal Talpur, are among the 172 individuals being investigated by NAB for their alleged role in the scandal. The petition names NAB Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal and NAB Deputy Director Mohammad Kamran as respondents.

In the petition, the former president–who was granted 10-day protective bail by the Sindh High Court (SHC) on March 19—requested the court to grant him bail till conclusion of the trial and instruct NAB to reveal details of the ongoing cases against him.

Names of Zardari, Talpur struck off no-fly list

Information regarding the fake accounts came to the fore when an intelligence agency picked up a prominent money changer in an unrelated case. In December 2015, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) began a discreet investigation into certain bank accounts through which multi-billion rupee transactions have been made.

Investigators have so far identified 29 accounts which received payments, totalling at least Rs35 billion. The probe was initially shelved, but resumed almost a year and a half later with FIA’s State Bank circle initiating a formal inquiry in January, 2018. By June, the FIA had several high-profile names on its list but was unable to make headway–for several reasons.

It was at his point that the Supreme Court intervened and then chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar took suo motu notice of the ‘slow progress’ in the money-laundering case. In July, Zardari’s close aides Hussain Lawai, Taha Raza and two others were arrested. Subsequently, the first case was registered in the mega-corruption scandal.

Fake accounts case: Sindh CM Murad to appear before JIT today

The then chief justice ordered the formation of a joint investigation team to quicken the pace of the investigation. The JIT identified 11,500 bank accounts and 924 account holders at the start of their investigation. After the JIT report, the names of 172 individuals were placed on the no-fly list by the interior ministry.

Separately, the IHC will hear a petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Usman Dar against Zardari, seeking the PPP co-chairman’s disqualification as a member of the National Assembly (MNA) on April 4. Chief Justice Athar Minallah will conduct the hearing.

The petition said the former president omitted details pertaining to ownership of an apartment in New York City, United States, in the nomination papers filed ahead of the July 25 general elections. He also failed to disclose two bulletproof vehicles, thereby violating Article 62(f)(i) of the Constitution and Section 231 of the Election Act, 2017.

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