Monday Jun 10 2019

NAB arrests Asif Ali Zardari in fake bank accounts case


ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Monday arrested former president Asif Ali Zardari in the fake bank accounts case here from the federal capital.

A team of NAB officials reached the Zardari House in the federal capital hours after a bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) — comprising Justices Amir Farooq and Moshin Akhtar Kayani — had rejected a plea filed by Zardari — also the co-chairperson of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) — and his sister, Faryal Talpur, seeking an extension in their interim bail in the fake bank accounts case.

Scene from the Zardari House in Islamabad show a black vehicle in which PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari was believed to be seated following his arrest. 

In the orders it issued, the IHC allowed the NAB to arrest Zardari and Talpur, both of whom, now, have the option to appeal the order in the Supreme Court.

The case pertains to transactions worth hundreds of millions of rupees to the two leaders' private companies, allegedly, through fake bank accounts.

The vehicle carrying Zardari entered the NAB office in the capital's Melody Area through the rear door whereupon a team of doctors are scheduled to first conduct a medical check-up of the former president.

The report of the medical check-up will be presented in the court tomorrow (Tuesday).

The PPP leader, on the other hand, would be presented in the court tomorrow to seek a remand.

'Voluntarily surrendered'

The "NAB chair overrode the judicial orders and issued the non-bailable warrants for Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur", the PPP leader's lawyer, Latif Khosa, said while speaking to media personnel early Monday evening.

A security convoy of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) escorts the car of former President and the co-chairperson of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari near the Islamabad High Court, Islamabad, Pakistan, June 10, 2019. AFP/Farooq Naeem

"They talk about Rs4.5 billion but the amount, in fact, is Rs15 million and that went to the Zardari Group, which is a proper entity," he said.

"Till 2013 [the year till which he was the president], he had resigned, he had no relation to the Zardari Group’s administrative, executive or financial affairs, and there are no fake accounts.

"The Omni Group has acknowledged that and noted that it had opened different accounts and this [account] was Omni Group's international account," Khosa said.

"When he became the president, he stepped down from the directorship of the Zardari Group and this is in the records of the SECP [Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan].

"We already had the bail so how can the NAB warrants override the court orders. We were advised to go to the high court and so we asked to show us the order. This is based on ill intentions," the lawyer stressed.

"Do you know know who created the NAB? It was [former president General (retd) Pervez] Musharraf who made it for political engineering."

Khosa further went to stress that Zardari "is a peaceful citizen of Pakistan and he voluntarily surrendered. He said, 'I’m obligated to the law and if they want to arrest me, I’ll oblige and go with them'.

A copy of NAB letter to NA Speaker informing him of Asif Zardari's arrest warrants.

"The PPP has always respected the law," he said.

IHC rejects bail for Zardari, Talpur

Earlier, a team of NAB officials informed the speaker of the National Assembly at the Parliament House of Asif Ali Zardari's arrest warrants.

A large number of police personnel and NAB officials reached the Zardari House following the IHC's orders to arrest the former president, while police sealed off all routes leading to and from the location to ensure the arrest.

In a post-Zardari arrest press conference, former premier Yousaf Raza Gilani told reporters that there was no resistance during the event and that the NAB officials were properly let into the Zardari House.

Sources informed Geo News that the NAB was expected to keep the former president in the Bureau's lock-up.

It is expected, however, that the NAB will not take Faryal Talpur into custody.

Earlier, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shehbaz Sharif urged Asad Qaiser, the NA Speaker, to issue production orders for Asif Ali Zardari.

"Zardari has presented himself before NAB on every occasion and has not used delaying tactics. NAB should have appreciated this and there was no need for an arrest,” Sharif, also the leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, said in the Parliament.