–Former president claims Park Lane case doesn’t fall under accountability watchdog’s purview
RAWALPINDI: Former president Asif Ali Zardari has questioned the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) jurisdiction in the Park Lane case, a day after the bureau asked the Islamabad High Court to suspend his bail, citing reservations.
In response to the NAB questionnaire, containing 54 questions in connection with three cases against him, including Park Lane Estate, the former president maintained that Park Lane case falls outside the purview of NAB ordinance, as the accountability watchdog was not liable to investigate matters of a private company.
He questioned NAB’s jurisdiction, maintaining that he and his son Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari are not affiliated with the Parthenon Company.
Zardari stated that the company was bought in 1989 from Sadruddin Hashwani in which Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Iqbal Memon, Rehmatullah, Muhammad Younus and Altaf Hussain were shareholders. “I owned just 25 per cent shares of the Park Lane Company, and in 2008, [I] resigned from its directorship before taking oath as the president,” Zardari said.
To one of the questions, he responded that the Parthenon Company was not aware of a loan of Rs1.5 billion by the National Bank of Pakistan.
He stated that the questionnaire in itself was exceeding the jurisdiction of the bureau according to the law.
On Friday, NAB stated the reasons for its opposition to the interim bail granted to Zardari by the IHC.
The development came following the extension of Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur’s interim bails till April 29 by the IHC.
The court had also directed the NAB to furnish details of ongoing and pending inquiries against them. The bureau, in its report, explained its opposition to bail, saying that the former president “may tamper records” if not taken into custody. Furthermore, it accused Zardari of not cooperating with the investigation team.
Zardari is accused of fraudulently obtaining Rs1.5 billion in loans for his Park Lane Estate through other firms. On March 20, the NAB Rawalpindi had handed over questionnaires comprising 54 questions each to Zardari and his son Bilawal in three cases including Park Lane Estate reference, and subsequently directed them to submit their response within 10 days.
Earlier, NAB had filed a petition with the trial court on behalf of its chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal, stating that the investigation of the case had been transferred to the anti-graft watchdog by the apex court. The petition had requested the trial court to transfer the proceedings of the case to an accountability court in Rawalpindi. Following the petition, the banking court had reserved its verdict earlier this week.
Later, the court announced its verdict and allowed the transfer of the fake accounts and money laundering case from Karachi to an accountability court in Rawalpindi.