A banking court in Pakistan on Wednesday extended till February 14 the interim bail of former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and nine other suspects in a money laundering case. The former president and his sister along with other suspects appeared before the court as the interim bail granted to them ended Wednesday, Geo TV reported. The Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) investigation officer did not appear before the court as he is currently in Islamabad.
During the hearing, the bench questioned, “How should we take the case forward when neither the investigation officer nor FIA record are present. First, let the Supreme Court decision, investigation officer and record come.” “The court is ready to hear the case but the file is not here. We have the interim chalan and can hear the bail case on the basis of that,” the banking court judge said. Turning to FIA’s counsel, the bench said, “If you have the file, present arguments on the bail plea.”
At this, Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed’s counsel requested that the FIA present a final chalan so the court can hear the case. However, FIA prosecutor Mumtaz-ul-Hasan said, “The Supreme Court order only states that the matter should be forwarded to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).”
The court then extended the interim bail of Zardari, Talpur, Anwar Majeed and nine other suspects till February 14 and adjourned the hearing of the money-laundering case till that date. However, the court will hear the bail plea of Majeed and his son on February 6.
Zardari, the husband of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, served as the 11th President of Pakistan from 2008 to 2013. The FIA is investigating 32 people in relation to money laundering from fictitious accounts, including Zardari and Talpur. Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai was arrested in July in connection with the probe. Omni Group chairman Majeed and his son, Abdul Ghani, were arrested by FIA in August.
Over 20 ‘benami’ accounts at some private banks were opened in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from where transactions worth billions of rupees were made, according to sources. The amount, according to FIA sources, is said to be black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.