Money laundering scam: Asif Zardari barred from traveling abroad

Money laundering scam: Asif Zardari barred from traveling abroad

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ISLAMABAD:  PPP chief Asif Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and five others have been placed on  the ‘stop list’ by the Federal Investigation Agency  as they were among the beneficiaries of a multi-billion rupee money laundering scam.The apex court had on Sunday ordered to place the names of heads of three private banks on the Exit Control List (ECL) in relation to a fake bank accounts case.

The order came as Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar took notice of the slow pace of inquiry into the case and conducted the proceedings on Sunday. The apex court has summoned seven fake bank account holders and 13 beneficiaries on July 12.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur are among those who have been issued notices to appear before the top court on the given date.

Meanwhile, Nasir Abdullah, Ansari Sugar Mills, Omani Polymer Packages, Pak Ethanol Private Limited, Chambar Sugar Mills, Agro Farm Thatta, Zardari Group, Parthenon Private Limited, AOne International, Lucky International, Logistic Trading, Royal International and Ameer Associate are among the beneficiaries named in the fake bank accounts case.The IGP Sindh has been directed by the apex court to ensure that all those summoned are present for the hearing on July 12.

During the hearing, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar ordered making a report like the Panama Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on the matter as soon as possible. The chief justice also barred the chief executive officers (CEOs) of Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and United Bank Limited (UBL) from traveling abroad in connection with the money laundering case.The chief justice asked the Director General Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Bashir Memon to give the court the investigation files. Bashir Memon informed the court that the case involved 29 fake accounts on seven people’s names. He said over Rs35 billion were funnelled through these accounts at the three banks.

Summit Bank Vice-Chairman Hussain Lawai, who is also a close aide of Asif Ali Zardari, was arrested by the FIA in this case on July 6.

“Tell us whose names the accounts were on,” the chief justice asked Memon, adding that he wanted to know who was behind the whole scam.

The DG FIA said all the beneficiaries of the accounts had been issued notices. Justice Saqib Nisar criticised Memon for acting slowly and said the court will issue notices to the accused itself.

“This is an important issue,” the chief justice said, asking why the FIA was being so hesitant.

Memon said an issue in their investigation was that banks do not readily provide data against their heads. He informed the court that the chairman of Summit Bank has an account through which Rs2.94 billion were funnelled and he had also been implicated in the case. The chief justice asked how the money was sent to the Zardari group and through whose accounts it was sent. Memon replied that the money was indeed sent from one of the suspected fake accounts. The FIA head informed the court that the accounts were mainly on the names of poor labourers.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked that the people in whose names the accounts were made likely had no idea of their existence. Memon said that Rs35 billion had already been funnelled through the Summit Bank. He said that so far, they had received the records of only one account, adding that the banks are not cooperating with the FIA.

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