ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to temporarily halt its investigation against former president Asif Ali Zardari and sister Faryal Talpur till July 25 in the fake bank accounts case.
A two-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, resumed hearing of a suo motu case pertaining to money laundering of Rs35 billion through fake bank accounts. The legal team of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) comprising senior party members Advocate Aitzaz Ahsan, Advocate Farooq H Naek and Advocate Latif Khosa represented the party leadership.
During the proceedings, the bench clarified that the apex court had neither summoned Zardari and Talpur in personal capacity nor ordered for their names to be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL). The summon was issued to a holding company where the siblings are directors. The FIA, however, has been ordered to continue the probe against non-political persons involved in the case.
In his arguments, Zardari’s counsel, Naek, expressed reservations over Najaf Mirza leading the FIA team investigating the matter. “He should not be included in the team as he has been previously nominated by Zardari in an FIR,” he told the court. Dismissing his plea, the bench remarked that a decision will be made after the court examines the written reply.
Seeking reply from all respondents in the money laundering case, including Zardari and Talpur, the apex court adjourned the hearing till August 6.
On July 8, the top court had summoned heads of three private banks and the beneficiaries of the fictitious bank accounts used for “suspicious transactions” including the former president and Talpur.
Citing a report compiled by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Director-General of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Bashir Memon had briefed the apex court that SBP had reported opening of 29 suspicious bank accounts in January this year, following which the agency had launched an inquiry. The FIA then summoned Zardari and Talpur to record their statements on July 11, however, they sent their lawyers instead and sought time.
On Wednesday, party sources revealed that the PPP co-chairperson had decided to appear before the SC after long consultations with his legal team.