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Former president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari was arrested Monday (June 10) by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in mega money laundering case.

Asif Zardari was taken to NAB office in Rawalpindi where he was shifted to cell no 2. The former president will be presented before the accountability court on Tuesday where the NAB will appeal for his remand.

Small scuffles erupted between police and supporters of Zardari’s Pakistan People s Party (PPP) outside his family residence in Islamabad as he was taken into custody.

The charges in the latest case centre around allegations Zardari laundered vast sums of money through suspect bank accounts and companies.

Earlier today, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had rejected the permanent bail application filed by former president Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur in the mega money laundering case.

NAB is conducting investigations in pursuance of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the money laundering of billions through fake accounts case wherein it forwarded the joint investigation team (JIT) report with directions to investigate and file references.

Last year, authorities discovered several accounts in the name of poor people that had been flooded with cash, then suddenly emptied. Supreme Court established a commission in September to investigate the scourge, finding that at least US$400 million had passed through “thousands of false accounts”.

Imran Khan, a longtime foe of Zardari, was elected prime minister last year after running a heated campaign vowing to crackdown on corruption.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is also currently behind bars, after being sentenced to seven years in prison late last year on corruption charges.

 

The fake accounts saga

 

In 2015, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had launched a probe into fake accounts and fictitious transactions conducted through 29 so-called ‘benami’ accounts in Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and UBL on the basis of a tip-off.

Initially, seven individuals, including Zardari and his Talpur, were said to be involved in using those accounts for suspicious transactions. The accounts were allegedly used to channel funds received through kickbacks.

Later, the apex court took a suo motu notice on the delay in the FIA probe into the case. The SC also constituted a Joint Investigation Team(JIT) to probe into the matter.

The JIT during the course of investigation uncovered 33 more suspicious accounts linked to the case, while nearly 170 individuals linked to the case were put on the no-fly list.

According to a report submitted in the court, 210 companies were also found to have alleged links to the case. As many as 47 of these companies and 334 people were associated with the Omni Group — owned by a close aide of Zardari. At one stage, the top court had frozen all assets and accounts of the group.

The accountability watchdog and the FIA allege that an account titled M/s A One International was fake and it received a sum of Rs4.4 billion out of which Rs30 million were paid to the Zardari Group at two different times.

Several close friends of Zardari had been arrested in the case, while the ex-president and his sister Faryal Talpur were on an interim bail which was extended multiple times before being rejected on Monday. Both Zardari and Talpur were on bail in at least seven other cases of corruption and malpractice.

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghanzali2011 (@) gmail.com


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