Money-laundering case: Zardari, Faryal placed on ECL
Duo skips FIA hearing, says will comply after July 25; Lawai to be shifted to Islamabad
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur on Wednesday skipped the hearing of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) pertaining to the probe into the 29 bank accounts allegedly used to channel illicit money.
However, the counsels for the siblings told the court that since both of them were busy with campaigning for the July 25 polls, therefore, they would appear before the agency after the said date.
The two junior lawyers appeared before the FIA and submitted a written response from both Zardari and Talpur, seeking time to provide information on the suspected transactions into the 29 accounts. Moreover, the response also stated that neither of them had a record of their transactions of 2014.
The lawyers said that Zardari and Faryal were busy electioneering and would only respond to FIA after July 25, which they will, he reiterated.
A day after the Supreme Court (SC) ordered the names of all those involved in the case to be put in the Exit Control List (ECL), the agency constituted a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) headed by FIA Sindh chief Munir Ahmed Shaikh, to investigate the matter.
The investigative agency had directed the duo to appear before the team on Wednesday to record their statements and explain their position on the accounts and transactions.
The lawyers pointed out that the duo had been summoned in 2018 for a case related to happenings in 2014. They added that forcing the two to engage in the case would be a violation of Articles 14 and 17 of the Constitution, as it would affect their election campaigns with the polls just two weeks away.
Since 2015, the FIA has been probing suspicious transactions made through 29 accounts — 16 of which were held in Summit Bank, eight in Sindh Bank and five in United Bank Limited (UBL).
Seven individuals, including Zardari and Talpur, were said to be involved in using those accounts for suspicious transactions which totalled Rs35 billion. The accounts were allegedly used to channel funds received through kickbacks.
Zardari’s close friend and Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) Chairman Hussain Lawai, along with Summit Bank’s corporate unit head Taha Raza, have been taken into FIA custody in connection with the case.
The FIA chief earlier said that the enquiry into the suspicious transactions was initiated in 2015 on a source report and, as a result, 29 accounts were identified.
Of these, 16 were in Summit Bank, eight in Sindh Bank and five in UBL. Seven individuals were involved in suspicious transactions of Rs35b, he added.
The investigation had revealed that Kiran Aman, the then operations manager of Summit Bank, had admitted and verified forged signatures of an account holder as genuine with mala fide intention.
Meanwhile the FIA has decided to shift banker Hussain Lawai to Islamabad for further investigation in the said probe, it was reported.
The FIA had airlifted Lawai along with a team of investigators Wednesday evening.
The banker will be investigated by senior FIA authorities in Islamabad.
Lawai was arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on July 6 on money laundering charges after the FIA registered a case in Karachi last week over a mega money-laundering scandal involving Rs35 billion — said to implicate politicians, businessmen, and bankers.
FIA officials say that 32 people, including Lawai, are being investigated for laundering billions of rupees through ‘benami’ or fictitious bank accounts. News Desk