ISLAMABAD: An accountability court in Islamabad on Monday indicted former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur in the supplementary mega money laundering case.
The accused, however, pleaded innocence.
The court last week ordered to indict Zardari in three corruption references against him — money laundering, Park Lane estate and Thatta water supply — while dismissing his petitions against the cases.
However, his indictment in the other two cases was delayed until October 5 due to the absence of one of the suspects.
Zardari’s counsel, Farooq Naek, was not present during the hearing. Naek’s associate informed the court that he was due at the Supreme Court (SC) today for another case and sought to delay the process, a request which was denied. The court ruled since the defendants were present, the court will proceed.
Hussain Lawai, another suspect in the fake account case, was in court while Omni Group chief Anwar Majeed attended the hearing via video link.
The court summoned the National Accountability Bureau’s witnesses on October 13.
Zardari is facing multiple corruption cases that have stemmed from a mega money-laundering scandal, which came into the limelight in 2018.
The former president, Talpur and several of their business associates are being probed as part of a 2015 case regarding fake accounts and fictitious transactions —which were initially found to have totalled Rs35 billion — conducted through 29 benami accounts in Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and UBL.
He is accused of being involved “in extending the loan and its misappropriation by M/s Parthenon Private Limited, M/s Park Lane Estate Private Limited and others”. His counsel, however, has argued that the PPP co-chief had been a director of M/s Park Lane, but he resigned from the company in 2008 before assuming the office of the president of Pakistan.
Reacting to his father and aunt’s indictment in the money laundering reference, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari slammed the government over political victimisation of opposition parties and not bringing the likes of former president Pervez Musharraf to justice.
The trend of victimising opposition leaders continued even during a global pandemic, said Bilawal.
“There were two laws in Pakistan,” he remarked.
Zardari and Faryal had been facing courts and imprisonment for the last two years, Bilawal said and added that they were even barred from leaving the country by placing them on exit control list (ECL). But, the PPP chairman noted, Musharraf, who he referred to as a “runaway dictator” and “traitor”, as well as three special assistants to the prime minister, other cabinet members and Aleema Khan – Imran Khan’s sister – will not be summoned.