Wednesday Jul 11, 2018
KARACHI: The legal team of former president Asif Ali Zardari submitted his reply before the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) today in relation to the Rs35 billion money-laundering scam.
Sources told Geo News two junior counsels of the former president’s lawyer, Farooq Naek, appeared before the FIA State Bank Circle and submitted his reply.
The reply stated that Zardari and sister Faryal Talpur will appear before the investigators after the July 25 general election as both are contesting in the upcoming polls.
Zardari and Talpur in their reply to the FIA stated that it is not possible to respond to queries regarding the case within a day.
It is not possible to submit bank statements and related records pertaining to 2014 immediately, the reply said.
Asif Zardari is the president of PPP and contesting the July 25 general election from NA-213 owing to which he is busy with election campaigns, it added.
The reply further vowed, Zardari will respond to all of FIA’s queries after July 25.
“The case pertains to 2014 and our client has been summoned in July 2018,” it added.
“He has been summoned when only two weeks are left for the election,” the reply read.
Our client's election campaign can be affected if he is busy with cases, it upheld.
Further, the reply stated, "To summon him right now is a violation of human rights and Article 218 of the Constitution upholds free and fair elections."
Zardari Group has no relation to the investigation, it said.
The reply further upheld that Zardari has served as the president of the country and respects the law.
Regarding Talpur, the reply stated that she is the head of PPP women’s wing.
She is contesting in the upcoming polls from PS-10, Larkana and is also busy with election campaigns due to which it is not possible for her to record her statement, it added.
Further, it requested that she be given till July 31 to submit her reply.
The FIA is investigating 32 people in relation to money laundering from benami account, under which Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai was also arrested earlier.
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders consulted senior lawyers over FIA’s summoning of Zardari and they advised him against appearing before the investigative agency, sources said.
“PPP leaders Farooq Naek, Latif Khosa, Aitzaz Ahsan and Nayyar Bokhari briefed the former president on the case,” the sources added.
Further on Tuesday, sources said the investigative agency decided not to immediately arrest the siblings.
The PPP co-chairman and his sister are also among 20 suspects summoned by the Supreme Court on July 12 in relation to the case and Inspector General (IG) Sindh Amjad Javid Saleemi has been directed by the apex court to ensure their presence for the hearing.
Further, Zardari and Talpur's names have been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) on the Supreme Court's orders.
Last week, the FIA registered a case in Karachi over a money laundering scandal of Rs35 billion said to implicate politicians, businessmen and bankers.
On July 6, the agency arrested Stock Exchange of Pakistan chairman Hussain Lawai, who is considered to be a close aide of Zardari.
The FIA officials maintain that 32 people, including Lawai, are being investigated for laundering billions of rupees through fictitious bank accounts.
Meanwhile, the FIA has constituted a seven-member joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the matter. The team will be headed by Additional DG FIA Dr Najaf Mirza.
Geo News obtained a copy of the notification of the JIT's formation, signed by DG FIA Bashir Memon.
The JIT includes Director FIA Punjab Dr Usman Anwar, Director FIA Sindh Muneer Ahmed Sheikh, Additional Director Banking Circle Karachi Faizullah Korejo, Deputy Director FIA Sindh Ali Mardan Khoso and two deputy directors of FIA Punjab, Chaudhry Mohammad Ahmed and Khalid Anis.
The investigation team will be able to get assistance from any additional member and will probe fake bank accounts.
The FIA inquiry started when the financial monitoring unit of the State Bank of Pakistan generated a 'suspicious transaction report' in January this year regarding ten bank accounts.
Sources maintain that over 20 ‘benami’ accounts at a private bank were opened in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from where transactions worth billions of rupees’ were made.
The amount according to FIA sources is said to be black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes. But despite these huge transactions, the bank authorities never reported them to the authorities concerned including the FIA.
On Sunday, the Supreme Court ordered to place the names of heads of three private banks involved in the scam on the ECL.
The order came as Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar took notice of the slow pace of inquiry into the case.