Monday Apr 08, 2019
ISLAMABAD: In a new twist in the mega money laundering and fake bank accounts case, two accused offered to become approvers as Pakistan Peoples Party leaders Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur appeared before an accountability court in Islamabad on Monday.
Zardari and his sister Talpur appeared before the court - their first appearance here after the case was transferred from a banking court in Karachi upon the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) appeal - amid strict security. As many as 2,000 security officials were deployed in and around the court premises.
As the hearing began, Kiran and Noreen - two of the 30 accused in the case - requested the court that they be allowed to testify as witnesses.
The two women told Judge Arshad Malik that they had made a similar request to the NAB chairman as well.
When the judge asked the NAB prosecutor what he thought about the request, the prosecutor said the bureau would first need to check whether the request had been lodged.
The court then directed the women to submit their written pleas before the judge.
The case hearing was then adjourned till April 16.
Zardari, who had reached Islamabad earlier, had asked his party workers not to come to the court.
Earlier on March 20, police and PPP workers had clashed outside the NAB court where Zardari and his son Bilawal had recorded their statements in the case.
The duo were questioned by NAB's combined investigation team under the supervision of DG NAB Rawalpindi Irfan Mangi for approximately two hours in three cases.
Prior to the hearing, Zardari was asked by a reporter how he felt appearing in an accountability court after so long, to which the former president replied in humour. "Ye toh wohi jaga hai guzre the hum jahan se (it's the same place where he had passed by before)."
"Where will you go from here?" the reporter asked. "We will go from here where we went to before," Zardari replied.
When a reporter remarked that he was sitting in the same chair where former premier Nawaz Sharif sat, Zardari remarked, "Mian sahab barey log hain, hum toh chhotey log hain."
The FIA 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 last year 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.
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 money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.