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Monday Mar 11 2019

Banking court reserves verdict on transfer of money laundering case to Islamabad

KARACHI: A banking court on Monday reserved its verdict till March 15 on the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) petition to transfer the mega money laundering case to Islamabad.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari's sister Faryal Talpur, former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Hussain Lawai, Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed's sons AG Majeed, Nimr and Zulqurnain among others appeared before the banking court in Karachi as it heard a case pertaining to laundering of several billion rupees through fictitious bank accounts.

As the hearing began, Zardari’s counsel, Farooq H Naik, submitted a request for exemption from hearing on behalf of the former president which was accepted by the court.

The NAB prosecutor, however, said, "This is a federal court not a provincial one. Sixteen references are being prepared on the Supreme Court's orders, thus the case should be transferred from Karachi to Islamabad."

Zardaris counsel upheld, "This is neither a case of corruption/ corrupt practicing nor of defrauding the nation. NAB made a false claim that the Supreme Court ordered the transfer of the case to Islamabad." 

"The top court had ordered NAB to probe further and it was given two months time which has now ended. NAB was further asked to take forward the probe by the joint investigation team (JIT)," Naik added. 

"All directives have been issued regarding the JIT report," the former president's counsel continued and added that the JIT report does not mention the Federal Investigation Agency's (FIA) claim.

Reading out the FIR registered by FIA, Naik said, "This court does not have the authority to transfer the case to Islamabad." 

At this, the NAB prosecutor said, "Supreme Court had asked NAB to conduct an inquiry and filed a reference. As per Supreme Court's 2004 decision, there is no need to give suspects a show cause notice."

Zardari's counsel upheld, "Attempts are being made to pressurise the banking court. NAB's petition for transfer of case is non-maintainable and should be rejected."

Former PSX chairman Lawai's counsel also raised objections to the transfer of the case to Islamabad and said, "Only Supreme Court has the authority to transfer the case to another province."

"The top court has ordered transfer of FIRs in the steel mills corruption case. The petition for transfer of the case is based on ill intentions," he added.

After hearing the arguments, the banking court reserved the verdict on NAB's petition till March 15 and adjourned the hearing of the case. 

The case

The Federal Investigation Agency is investigating 32 people in relation to money laundering from fictitious accounts, including Zardari and Talpur. Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai was arrested in July 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.

Over 20 ‘benami’ accounts at some 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 m

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