–Review petition points to ‘absence of direct evidence’ against Zardari, Faryal
—Claims Zardari is being ‘victimised’ due to political differences
KARACHI: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur on Monday filed a petition with the Supreme Court (SC) seeking a review of its decision to send the fake bank accounts case to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
On January 21, NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal decided to transfer the case against Zardari, Talpur and Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Murad Ali Shah to the anti-graft body’s office in Rawalpindi in compliance with the top court’s orders.
It has been reported that Advocate Latif Khosa filed the review petition on behalf of his clients which stated that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has failed to submit a final challan in banking court despite assistance from all the relevant departments.
The petition asserted that a joint investigation team (JIT) had been forced by SC on the request of FIA, and took issue that the accused “appeared before JIT, submitted written replies but the agency has not found any direct evidence against them”.
It argued that the JIT report is “based on assumptions as it did not include our stance”. Further, it asserted that the JIT had recommended further probe into the case while the apex court agreed that there was the absence of “substantial evidence”.
The petition concluded that the case was transferred from Karachi to Islamabad “without any reason” and “Zardari has been the target of political revenge throughout his life”.
Zardari and Talpur in the petition said that the Supreme Court decision will affect the “fair trial” and the top court’s January 7 should be reviewed.
On December 24, the JIT, formed on the apex court’s orders to probe into the alleged money-laundering case, presented its 128-page final report to the court which included recommendations for filing 16 NAB references.
The report had mentioned that 29 fake accounts were identified by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) which had laundered Rs42 billion, however, the team further discovered 11,500 bank accounts of 924 account holders, 59 Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) and 24,500 Cash Transactions Reports (CTRs). All of these details were scrutinized, besides the loan profile of 924 individuals.
The report further stated that the fake accounts were opened through the Omni Group, however, the accounts had been engaged with direct transactions with the Zardari Group, Bahria Town, Sindh government departments and certain contractors while the ultimate beneficiary of money laundering was Zardari’s family.
On September 6, the SC had formed a JIT to probe into alleged mega money laundering of Rs42 billion channeled through fake bank accounts in three banks. Besides the Zardari family, several prominent individuals including former Summit Bank president Hussain Lawai and Omni Group president Anwar Majeed, have been accused in the case.
Property tycoon Malik Riaz, his son-in-law Zain, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari have been also included in the inquiry.