- FIA summons senior PPP leaders to record their statements in mega scam on Wednesday, however siblings decide not to appear before investigators
- PPP leadership assigns Farooq Naek to represent co-chairman and his sister in investigation
KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Tuesday issued notices to former president and top leader of the PPP, Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur to appear for investigation on July 11 in relation to a Rs35 billion money laundering scam, a day before they are due to appear before the country’s top court in the same case.
However, a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) huddle chaired by Zardari and his son Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari later in the evening decided that the party’s co-chairman and women’s wing president will not appear before investigators. Advocate Farooq Naek will represent the Zardari siblings in the investigation. The two suspects had earlier refused to sign the FIA summons.
The notices issued by FIA Inspector Muhammad Ali directed the two suspects to appear before FIA’s State Bank Circle in Karachi at 10 am on Wednesday to record their statements in the case. Sindh Inspector General (IG) Amjad Javid Saleemi has been directed to ensure their presence for the hearing.
An investigation officer of the agency told Pakistan Today that though the agency had summoned the Zardari duo for initiating investigation process into scam but it was okay if the PPP leaders sent their lawyers willing to answer some questions about the scandal.
“There is nothing personal against Zardari sahib. We are okay even if they join the probe through their legal team,” the investigator said, adding that the agency would send questionnaires to both Zardaris and would be receiving their answers within a stipulated timeframe.
However, the official said if the answers could not satisfy the investigators, then further action would be taken according to the law.
Meanwhile, the authorities concerned have issued ‘blue warrants’ for suspects Anwar Majeed and his son Ali Kamal Majeed.
The development comes a day after the Supreme Court directed the Interior Ministry to place the names of all those connected to the ‘benami’ accounts on its Exit Control List (ECL) to prevent them from leaving the country before the case is concluded.
Further, the FIA has constituted a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), headed by FIA Sindh Director Munir Ahmed Shaikh, to investigate the matter.
On July 6, the agency had arrested former chairman of the Pakistan Stock Exchange, Hussain Lawai, 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.
The SC has taken suo motu notice of the case that revolves around a 2015 probe into the suspicious transactions through 29 ‘benami’ accounts — 16 in the Summit Bank, eight in the Sindh Bank and five in the UBL. Seven individuals were said to be involved in suspicious transactions of around Rs35 billion. The accounts were allegedly used to channel funds received through kickbacks.
Lawai and Summit Bank’s corporate unit head Taha Raza have already been in FIA’s custody in the case.
The suspected beneficiaries the apex court has summoned on Wednesday include Nasser Abdulla Lootah, Ansari Sugar Mills Pvt Ltd (Anwar Majeed, Ali Kamal Majeed), Omni Polymer Packages Pvt Ltd, Pak Ethnol Pvt Ltd, Chamber Sugar Mills Pvt Ltd, M/s Agro Farms Thatta Pvt Ltd; Zardari Group Pvt Ltd (Asif Ali Zardari, Faryal Talpur), Parthenon Pvt Ltd (Iqbal Khan Noori), A-One International (account identified in Suspicious Transaction Report), Lucky International (STR), Logistic Trading (STR), Royal International (STR) and Umair Associates (STR).
Likewise, those who reportedly deposited the money in the accounts were: Bahria Town Karachi (Zain Malik), Sujawal Agro Farms Pvt Ltd, Tando Allahyar Sugar Mills Pvt Ltd, Omni Pvt Ltd, Agro Farms Thatta Pvt Ltd, Alfa Zulu Co Pvt Ltd, Haji Mureed Akbar (banker on behalf of contractor), Sher Mohammad Mugheri & Co (contractor), M/s Sardar Mohammad Ashraf D. Baloch Pvt Ltd (contractor), A-One International (STR), Lucky International (STR), Logistic Trading (I.I. Chundrigar) (STR), Iqbal Metals (STR), Royal International (STR) and Umair Associates (STR).
As per FIA Director General Bashir Memon’s report, the persons/companies in whose names fake/fictitious accounts were opened are: Tariq Sultan (A-One International), Erum Aqeel (Ibrahim Linkers), Mohammad Ashraf (Logistic Trading), Mohammad Iqbal Araen (Iqbal Metals), Mohammad Umair (Umair Associates), Adnan Javed (Lucky International) and Qasim Ali (Royal International). They have also been summoned for July 12.
Besides, the apex court ordered the production of the presidents/CEOs of UBL, Summit Bank and Sindh Bank (including those in FIA’s custody) on Thursday.
The SC also requisitioned several cases from the Sindh High Court in this regard.
The court directed the State Bank of Pakistan to seize/ freeze the account in which Summit Bank had deposited Rs7 billion as equity and that the latter should not be allowed to withdraw the amount.