ISLAMABAD  -   Pakistan Peoples Party Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari Thursday said that authorities will have to first prove that he had deposited money in fictitious bank accounts opened in the name of an ice cream vendor, rickshaw driver or a sweetmeat seller. In an interview with a private TV channel, the PPP co-chairman said “By and large, I have an understanding of the law...Every other day surfaces a milkman or a sweetmeat seller, and money is found in their accounts.”

“They have to first prove that I went and got an account opened, but that is not happening.”

Zardari said if it is established that he got the accounts opened, then a case could be lodged against him. He, however, said he could still “defend” himself. “But that too I can defend telling them, ‘Yes, I deposited money in his account, it is my choice’,” Zardari said. He further said bank officials are at fault, when asked who was to blame if the account holder did not even have knowledge of the account being operated in his name.

The FIA has been investigating 32 people in relation to money laundering from fictitious bank accounts, including former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur.

Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai was arrested in July this year in connection with the probe, whereas Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed and his son, Abdul Ghani Majeed, were also taken into custody later. The FIA inquiry started when the financial monitoring unit of the State Bank of Pakistan generated a ‘suspicious transaction report’ in January this year regarding ten bank accounts.