–FIA interrogates brother-sister duo for around 35 mins
—PPP co-chairman terms case ‘politically motivated’, says FIA officials can ask whatever they want
–Kaira claims FIA didn’t handover any questionnaire to Zardari, Talpur to answer all questions
ISLAMABAD: Former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur on Monday finally appeared before the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and recorded their statements in the Rs41.4 billion money laundering probe.
Zardari and Talpur appeared before the agency’s joint investigation team (JIT) after being summoned by FIA for the fourth time. Despite earlier summons, the two accused had failed to appear before the JIT.
The FIA had issued a statement on Saturday, saying that Zardari and his sister had to present themselves at the agency’s headquarters in Islamabad.
The PPP co-chairman and his sister arrived at the agency’s Islamabad zonal office, accompanied by lawyer Farooq H Naek, Senator Sherry Rehman, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, Yousaf Raza Gilani, Naveed Qamar, Qamar Zaman Qaira and Khursheed Shah.
FIA Additional DG Najaf Mirza, who chaired a meeting at the agency’s Islamabad office earlier in the day, interrogated Zardari and Talpur for around 35 minutes. According to reports, Zardari avoided answering some questions.
‘POLITICALLY MOTIVATED CASE’:
Speaking to the media after his questioning, Zardari termed the case politically motivated saying, “Unfortunately the money laundering case was formed against me during former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s tenure.”
“The FIA (officials) can ask whatever they want, but the crux of the matter is [the] facts [speak otherwise],” the PPP supremo said when asked about the probe.
Later on, PPPP Secretary General Farhatullah Babar, in a letter addressed to PEMRA, claimed that contrary to media reports Zardari and Talpur were not asked any questions or given any questionnaires by the FIA.
“It is not correct that Asif Zardari was asked some questions about the Zardari Group of Companies,” Babar stated. “It is also wrong to say that both Zardari and Faryal Talpur were handed over questionnaires.”
Babar urged the media regulator to “prevent the broadcast of fabricated and false reports” and take “strong and decisive action” against the channels who allegedly misreported.
FIA DIDN’T HAND OVER QUESTIONNAIRE TO ZARDARI, CLAIMS KAIRA:
PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira dispelled rumors that FIA handed over a questionnaire to party’s co-chairman.
He was addressing a presser in the federal capital along with other leaders.
“Not even a single question was posed before Asif Ali Zardari by FIA. Faryal Talpur will answer all questions. The co-chairman appeared before FIA after receiving the summons,” Kaira told reporters.
“Zardari has no connection with Zardari Group since 2008. Zardari detached himself from the administration and financial issues of the Zardari Group after his election as the country’s president,” stated Kaira.
Zardari and Talpur are being investigated as part of a corruption case relating to fake accounts and fictitious bank transactions worth Rs41.4 billion. The siblings face allegations that they had illegally channelled funds through fake accounts in connivance with the CEOs of major banks.
The case was initially registered in 2015 against former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Hussain Lawai, who is widely believed to be close to Zardari.
Later, seven individuals, including Zardari and Talpur, were said to have been found involved in using those accounts for suspicious transactions which totalled Rs35 billion. The accounts were allegedly used to channel funds received through kickbacks.
Last month, Lawai and banker Taha Raza were detained and booked for allegedly facilitating the opening of 29 ‘fake’ accounts through which suspicious transactions were made to different companies, including M/s Zardari Group.
Initially, Zardari and Talpur avoided appearing before the agency and expressed their distrust in the FIA officials, but later joined the probe after a banking court in Karachi issued their arrest warrants. The two had obtained protective bail in the case from the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
Also, warrants were issued for suspects absconding in the case, including Namar Majeed, Aslam Masood, Arif Khan, Naseer Abdullah Hussain, Adnan Javed, Mohammad Umair, Iqbal, Azam Wazir Khan, Zain Malik, and Mustafa Zulqarnain.