–PPP supremo insists bank accounts being termed fake by NAB were actually ‘business’ accounts
–Says ‘everyone in country has black money’, ‘either NAB will be left standing or Pakistan’s economy’
ISLAMABAD: Former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday told accountability officials that the bank accounts being termed fake by them were actually ‘business’ accounts and that “everyone in Pakistan has black money”.
The PPP supremo reportedly said this during his investigation in the Harish and Company probe, which is one of the three references related to the mega money laundering and fake bank accounts case.
According to informed sources, Zardari got agitated during his one-and-a-half hour-long questioning and reportedly told National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials led by NAB Rawalpindi Director General Irfan Mangi that this would be his last appearance before the anti-graft body.
“This will be my last appearance before NAB. Either NAB will be left standing or Pakistan’s economy,” Zardari was quoted as having said during his questioning.
The PPP supremo went on to claim that “everyone in the country holds business accounts and has black money”.
The sources claimed that the PPP chief was given a questionnaire regarding three ongoing corruption investigations against him and summoned him again on May 23.
During questioning, Zardari was asked about the funds handed over to Harish & Company for a water project allegedly used to meet the expenses of Naudero House. He was also grilled about suspicious transactions involving Rs8 billion.
The NAB team also asked him about the alleged payment of Rs1 billion for the Opal 225 property.
Talking to reporters after the investigation, Zardari’s lawyer Farooq H Naek said his client had nothing to do with Harish & Company and he was summoned by NAB even though his name was not even mentioned in its reference.
Speaking about the Park Lane Estate inquiry, Naek said Zardari was neither its director nor its shareholder.
“The Park Lane Estate mortgaged its own property and obtained a loan,” he added.
The lawyer maintained that Zardari was not even aware that the directors of the Park Lane Estate had mortgaged its property and came to know about it through the joint investigation team’s report.
In fact, he added, the former president had moved the court against the directors.
“This [implicating Zardari] is nothing but political victimisation.”
Naek said NAB had not handed over any questionnaire to his client.
“It’s easy to level allegations but difficult to prove them,” he remarked.
Speaking on the Opal 225 property, the lawyer said his client was neither a director nor a shareholder and the project was executed through a civil agreement.
He also said Zardari was falsely accused of receiving Rs30 million through a fake account.
According to Naek, no questionnaire had been handed to Zardari.
On Wednesday, IHC granted interim bail to former president Asif Ali Zardari in six corruption cases that are being probed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) besides extending his bail in Park Lane and fake accounts cases till June 12 and May 22.
According to reports, the high court granted him interim bail in the money laundering case until May 30 and while his bail against the surety bond of Rs 500,000 in Opal 225 property was approved till June 12.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman, who is accused of taking vehicles from Tosha Khana and paying their import duties from fake accounts, was also granted interim bail in the case till June 20.
In a probe pertaining to suspicious transactions, Zardari’s interim bail was extended until May 21. In a probe pertaining to Harish and Company, the court adjourned the hearing until May 30.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is investigating more than 30 people in relation to money laundering from fictitious accounts, including Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur. Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai was arrested in July 2018 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 2018.
Several ‘benami’ accounts at multiple 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.