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December 11, 2018

Money laundering case: Zardari, Faryal’s interim bail extended till Dec 21

KARACHI: A banking court on Monday extended the interim bail of former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister, Faryal Talpur till December 21 in connection to an ongoing money laundering case.

Zardari and Talpur appeared before the court as the interim bail granted to them earlier in the case ended. Omni Group Chairman Anwar Majeed's sons Nimr Majeed and AG Majeed also appeared before the banking court in Karachi, Geo News reported.

As the hearing went under way, the investigation officer apprised the court regarding the progress made in the case while Zardari and Talpur's counsel requested for an extension in the interim bail. The court accepted the request and extended their interim bail till December 21.

Earlier, during the hearing, Zardari met AG Majeed. The former president's guards surrounded the two and no one else was allowed close to them.

Former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Hussain Lawai, Onmi Group Chairman Anwar Majeed and his son Abdul Ghani Majeed are also suspects in the case pertaining to money laundering through fake bank accounts.

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.

The former president’s other close aide and Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed and his son, Abdul Ghani, were arrested by the 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 the FIA sources, is said to be black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.

Shoaib A Raja adds from Islamabad: The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing alleged money laundering by Asif Zardari and Anwar Majeed, Faryal Talpur and some others, was directed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan to submit its final report till December 19.

The Supreme Court had taken suo motu notice of the fake accounts case and instructed the authorities to expedite the investigation. The Sindh government also had to face the anger of the court due to lack of cooperation with the JIT probing the matter.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Faisal Arbab, will consider the final report of the JIT on December 24, when the court will resume after winter vacation.

Earlier, the apex court allowed the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) to initiate criminal as well as civil proceedings (as per law) against Omni Group after its ASC Munir Ahmed Bhatti said his client, Majeed, has refused to repay outstanding amount to the bank for the shortfall or failure to pledge the sugar which was removed unauthorised.

The court also did not allow Summit Bank’s request to facilitate an out-of-court settlement with Omni Group.