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March 20, 2019

Fake accounts case: Zardari, Faryal granted 10 day protective bail

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March 20, 2019

KARACHI: Sindh High Court on Tuesday granted transitory cum protective bail for 10 days to former President and Pakistan People Party’s co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur in the fake bank accounts and fraudulent bank loan cases. The court however turned down the request of PPP leaders for suspension of the order to transfer the money laundering, fake bank accounts case to administrative judge of accountability courts in Islamabad by the special court for banking offence.

Zardari and Faryal Talpur had filed applications against the order of the special court for banking offence that had also recalled their interim pre-arrest bail along with other co-accused.

They had sought transitory protective bail for appearance before the trial court. Zardari's counsel also challenged the National Accountability Bureau’s call up notice issued to the petitioner being a director of M/s Park Lane Estates about corruption and corrupt practices in extending loan and its misappropriation through joint venture of M/s Park Lane Estates and its front company M/s Parthenon private company.

According to the NAB, M/s Park Lane Estates fraudulently obtained a loan of Rs.1.5 billion through a front company M/s Parthenon from the National Bank of Pakistan and Summit Bank and collectively restructured it to the tune of Rs.2.5 billion.

The NAB call up notice stated that Zardari being the director of M/s Park Lane Estates used the accounts for the misappropriation of the said loan amount through joint venture of both companies. The petitioner's counsel Farooq H Naek submitted that petitioner is only a shareholder to the extent of 25% shares in M/s Park Lane. He submitted that neither Zardari was director of the said company which was registered with the Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan nor he had any responsibility for running the day to day affairs of the company. He submitted that the call up notice was issued with malafide intention, ulterior motives and it was without jurisdiction as the affairs of private company do not fall within the ambit and purview of section 9 (a) or schedule under section 10 (b) of the NAB Ordinance 1999. Naek argued that the petitioner was falsely implicated in the investigation and had nothing to do with the alleged acts of corruption and corrupt practices. He said Zardari is ready to appear before JIT as and when called or approach the concerned court. He submitted that his client apprehended imminent arrest by NAB and sought transitory protective bail so he could appear before NAB.

Regarding transfer of fake accounts case to accountability court Islamabad, Zardari's defence counsel argued that the special court for banking offence has recalled the interim protective bail of the Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur while transferring the case to NAB's administrative judge on application of NAB. He questioned the jurisdiction for transfer of the case to accountability court and submitted that the case cannot be transferred on the application of Chairman NAB to the accountability court Islamabad in view of the provisions of section 16-A of NAO Ordinance 1999. He submitted that no cognizable offence under NAO has allegedly been made out in the FIR.

He said there is no specific direction of the Supreme Court in its January 7 order for transferring the case to accountability court Islamabad besides the interprovincial transfer of a case the transfer application lies before the SC under section 16-A (b) of NAO 1999. He argued that prosecutor general NAB has neither moved application under section 16-A.

The SHC’s division bench headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Sheikh, without touching the merits of the case, granted transitory cum protective bail to petitioners for 10 days with surety of Rs.1 million each to the siblings so they could appear before the administrative judge of the accountability court and NAB. The court observed that the order shall cease to have its effect on March 29 or when the petitioners appear before the NAB or the court of competent jurisdiction whichever is earlier in time. The court however turned down the request of the petitioners counsel for suspension of the order of the special court for banking offence in which it ordered transferring the case to administrative judge accountability court Islamabad. The court issued notices to federal law officer, deputy prosecutor general NAB and other and called their comments on March 26.

The other co accused including Hussain Lawai, Taha Raza, Omni group head Anwar Majeed and his son Abdul Ghani Majeed are already under FIA's detention in the same case. The Supreme Court in its January 7 had ordered handing over the Joint Investigation Team record in the fake account to the NAB for further investigation. The Supreme Court had also allowed the NAB to conduct if it considers expedient any additional probe, inquiry or investigation in the case, being the subject of JIT the report at Islamabad. The court however observed that such probe or inquiry shall be completed within a maximum period of two months thereafter, in case, cognizable offences are made out, the recommendations contained in paragraph 300 at page 124 of the Final (Synthesis) Report shall be acted upon and a requisite reference shall be filed in the relevant Accountability Court.

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