Money laundering scam: Zardari fails to appear before FIA

Karachi [Pakistan]: Former Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur on Saturday failed to appear before the joint investigation team of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in connection to a money laundering case.

The brother-sister duo was summoned to the FIA office by 11 am (local time) to record their statements. However, their lawyers appeared on their behalf and submitted replies to the joint investigation team, Samaa TV reported.

The counsel said that Talpur could not come to the FIA office, as she was appearing before a banking court in connection to the Pakistani (Rs.) 35 billion money-laundering scam and was securing an interim bail.

Meanwhile, Talpur filed a petition asking for more time to appear before the joint investigation team.

Last week, Zardari and Faryal were declared as absconders by the FIA in connection with the aforementioned case. A two-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar, took suo motu notice of the FIA’s investigation into the money-laundering scam.

At least 20 others, including Zardari’s close aide Anwar Majeed and his son, were also declared as absconders by the FIA.

On July 18, the names of Zardari and Talpur were removed from the Exit Control List (ECL) by Pakistan’s Interior Ministry, according to sources. Prior to this, Zardari and Talpur’s names were placed on the ECL on the orders of Pakistan’s Supreme Court, sources told Geo TV earlier.

However, on July 12, the country’s apex court had refuted reports that it did not place the brother-sister duo on the ECL and did not issue directives to prevent them from leaving the country in connection to their alleged involvement in the money-laundering scam.

In January this year, the FIA inquiry began when the State Bank of Pakistan’s financial monitoring unit issued a “suspicious transaction report” on ten bank accounts. Transactions worth billions were made over the years when over 20 ‘benami’ accounts were opened at a private bank.

At least, 32 people are under legal scanner by the FIA for laundering money from fictitious accounts. Zardari, however, has denied such allegations.

On July 6, the FIA had arrested Stock Exchange of Pakistan chairman Hussain Lawai, who is considered to be Zardari’s close aide. (ANI)