–Accountability watchdog claims law will take its course in fake bank accounts scandal
–No arrest will be made over ‘any minister’s desire’, Bureau makes it clear
ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) said on Wednesday that the law will take its course in the fake bank accounts case, adding that those named in the case, including former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur, and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah could not be arrested at someone’s whim, referring to the demands of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) ministers.
In a press statement, the accountability watchdog said that NAB is carrying out investigation according to the constitution and law. Without naming Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, the bureau made it clear that no arrest will be made over “any minister’s desire”.
The money laundering case was initially registered in 2015 against former Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) chairman Hussain Lawai, who is widely believed to be close to Asif Zardari.
Besides the ex-president and his sister, real estate tycoon Malik Riaz’s son-in-law Zain Malik and 14 other bankers and businessmen have been booked in the case pertaining to alleged laundering of Rs4.14 billion through 29 ‘fake’ bank accounts, while Hussain Lawai, Taha Raza, Anvar Majeed and Abdul Ghani Majeed have been detained for their alleged involvement in facilitating the transactions.
Investigations so far have revealed that several ‘benami’ accounts at some private banks were opened in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from where transactions worth billions of rupees were made.
The amount, according to the FIA, is said to be black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.
In December 2018, the Supreme Court (SC) had barred the trading and transfers of the properties of the Zardari Group, Bahria Town and Omni Group after a report submitted by a joint investigation team (JIT) held them responsible in the mega money laundering and fake accounts case.
On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi expressed regret over Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s ‘rash decision’ of placing 172 individuals on the no-fly list after their names emerged in a money laundering probe.
Qureshi was alluding to the decision of the federal cabinet on Dec 27, wherein it had decided to place Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Faryal Talpur, Murad Ali Shah, Farooq H Naek and several other leaders and provincial ministers belonging to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), on the Exit Control List (ECL).
The SC had come down hard on the government and ordered the government to review the case. In a subsequent hearing, it had directed for removal of Bilawal and Murad from the ECL.
However, the federal cabinet had postponed the removal of names from the no-fly list, saying the apex court had yet to issue a detailed judgement in this regard.