–PPP co-chairman seeks details of NAB inquiries against him
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking pre-arrest interim bail in the fake accounts case.
Zardari is among the 172 individuals being probed for their alleged role in the scandal by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The petition names NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal and NAB Deputy Director Mohammad Kamran as respondents.
In his plea, Zardari requested the court that the anti-corruption watchdog should be stopped from arresting him. He also requested the court to order the bureau to furnish details of all inquiries against him.
Zardari stated that he has been summoned thrice in connection with the case, however, he does not know the number of inquiries against him. He also mentioned that NAB could arrest him in any of the inquiries and hence, he was left with no other option but to approach the court to avoid arrest.
The PPP leader is already on interim bail in the fake accounts case.
Earlier on Tuesday, IHC granted pre-arrest interim bail to former Sindh chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah in the same case.
The elderly politician had moved the IHC on Monday as he feared that the accountability watchdog would take him into custody during an investigation into the multi-billion-rupee money laundering scandal.
In December 2015, the FIA began a discreet investigation into certain bank accounts through which multi-billion rupee transactions have been made. According to FIA sources, information regarding the fake accounts came to the fore when an intelligence agency picked up a prominent money changer in an unrelated case.
Investigation showed the accounts were operated by fake companies. Funds were credited into these accounts from contractors with multi-billion rupee contracts with the Sindh government. The money was found to have been transferred to accounts of companies owned and operated by the Omni Group, whose chairperson, Anwar Majeed, is a close aide of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Zardari. Another beneficiary was Nasir Lootah, the chairperson of Summit Bank.
The probe, however, was shelved. It resumed almost a year and a half later. FIA’s State Bank circle initiated 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. 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.
The FIA submitted its report to the apex court on July 8 which revealed a web of companies and accounts that were being used to transfer billions of rupees. In all, 29 accounts were identified that received payments, totalling at least Rs35 billion.
In August, Omni Group chief Anwar Majeed was arrested along with son Abdul Ghani Majeed when they returned to the country on being summoned by the apex court. They are now on judicial remand.