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Zardari, sister summoned in fake accounts case.

Byline: Malik Asad

ISLAMABAD -- An accAountability court on Friday summoned former president and Pakistan Peoples Party leader Asif Ali ZarAdari, his sister Faryal Talpur, former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Hussain Lawai, Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed and others in a money laundering and fake accounts case on April 8.

As the case was recently transferred from a banking court of Karachi to the accountability court of Islamabad, the registrar office of the accountability court referred the relevant record to Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik after conducting its scrutiny.

Judge Malik issued summons for all accused persons in the fake accounts case and adjourned further proceedings till April 8 when the court will commence formal proceedings.

Another accountability court's judge Mohammad Bashir is conducting proceedings in a related matter in which five accused persons Aftab Memon, Hassan Memon, Mohammad Bashir, Abdul Jabbar and Najam Zaman had been remanded to the National AccountaAbility Bureau (NAB) custody till March 28.

Earlier in 2014, Judge Bashir had acquitted Mr Zardari in five corruption references including the one related to the alleged kickbacks in award of SGS/Cotecna contract, ARY Gold reference, polo ground reference and Ursus tractor reference.

A joint investigation team (JIT) was later constituted by former chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar to investigate the fake accounts case at a suo motu hearing.

In the report, the JIT contended that prima facie evidence brought on record during the investigations indicated that the Zardari and Omni groups had amassed assets through misappropriation of loans, government funds, kickbacks and proceeds of crime. It said the evidence suggested that the groups had a history of laundering their illegal proceeds abroad through illegal channels of Hundi and Hawala.

The JIT requested the Supreme Court to order freezing of the assets of both the groups held through different subsidiaries and front companies and those held in the name of their directors, pending the final adjudication by the accountability courts.

The report stated that the International Business and Shopping Centre (IBSC) project identified by the JIT to be a 'Benami' of Asif Zardari held in the name of his then front man Iqbal Memon (International Builders) was frozen in 1998.

The JIT also mentioned transfer of Rs357 million from 12 fake accounts into the accounts of Ms Parthenon. It added that Ms Parthenon was a front company of M/s Park Lane since it had no independent business of its own when it entered into a joint venture with Park Lane.

Similarly, the report stated, Plots C5 and 6 in Clifton, where Bahria Icon Towers was later constructed, were identified and frozen in 1998 as 'Benami' of Mr Zardari held in the name of Galaxy Construction owned by his then front man Saleem Akhter. The JIT alleged this property came back to Mr Zardari through Galaxy Construction, which was currently owned by Dr Dinshaw Hoshang Ankleseria who according to the report was also his front man.

The JIT recommended to the apex court to order the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) not to change the ownership through the change of directors of any of the companies holding the assets in question.

The report also mentioned different assets owned by the Zardari Group like Opal 225 Saddar, Karachi, IBSC Saddar of Park Lane, farm houses in Tando Allahyar and Nawabshah, a set of houses in Clifton called Bilawal House, agricultural land, different properties owned by Faryal Talpur, different vehicles of Asif Zardari that belonged to Tosha Khana, including bullet-proof BMW 760, Lexus 570 and Mitsubishi SUV, and assets in foreign countries said to be held by Asif Zardari and Faryal Talpur.

Likewise, the assets owned by the Omni Group and its directors included 16 sugar mills in different districts of Sindh, 19 power generation companies, farms, real estate and agricultural land, vehicles and bank accounts, the report added.
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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Mar 23, 2019
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