KARACHI - A banking court on Tuesday extended interim bail of former president Asif Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and others in a case pertaining to money laundering of Rs4.14 billion through fake bank accounts, case until December 10.

Judge Tariq Mehmood Kohso conducted hearing of the case, wherein ex president Asif Zarari and his sister Faryal Talpur and others reached the court amid tight security. The detained suspects including former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Hussain Lawai was produced from prison.

Farooq H Naek while counselling on behalf of Pakistan People’s Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur, submitted an application and pleaded to extend their pre-arrest bail which the court granted.  The court also extended interim bail of other suspects including Zain Malik and three sons of Anwar Majeed, until the next hearing.

During the hearing, the investigation officer of the Federal Investigation Agency FIA submitted an application seeking custody of the detained bankers Hussain Lawai and Raza Taha, and stated that their physical custody is required for further interrogation.

The defence counsel, advocate Shoukat Hayat opposed the IO plea and argued that the FIA officials had been adopted delaying tactics. He added that instead of FIA, the matter is being investigated by Joint Investigation Team.

The court issued notices to the counsels and directed to file their comments on the FIA plea till November 16.

Beside, the IO has also requested the court to grant him further time to submit final challan of the case, the court allowed his plea and directed him to conclude the investigation and submit the challan in the next hearing. 

Two detained suspects, Raza Taha and Anwar Majeed were not produced from the prison, their medical reports were presented before the court and the court was informed that both suspects were not able to appear before it.

The prisoner officials informed the court that Taha Raza could not be produced since he had got his right knee fractured as he slipped in the prison in the last month. The court was also informed that the accused, Taha Raza who was in judicial custody, has been hospitalized, and could not be produced before the court as he was not able to move from the bed.  

He further informed the court that detained businessman, Anwar Majeed, who is widely believed to be a close friend of Mr Zardari, could also not be produced since he had been shifted from jail to a hospital because of his ailment.

The accused were booked in a case pertaining to money laundering of Rs4.14 billion through ‘fake’ bank accounts in the Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and United Bank Limited.

While submitting a progress report regarding the non-arrest of the five absconding suspects, including UAE national Nasser Abdulla Hussain Lootah, directing the investigating officer and others, the IO has informed the court that the legal procedure to proclaim them offenders has been initiated; he added that the notices, those were issued to them, were also put on display at their houses.

“The concerned authorities have been approached for collecting details about their properties” said the FIA official.

The court directed the IO to accelerate the legal formalities proclaiming them offenders and submit its report in the next hearing.   

Earlier, the PPP’s other leaders including Nafeesa Shah, Imtiaz Shaikh, Nasir Shah, Nadia Gabol and others also reached the court.

Initially, the FIA detained Lawai and Raza in July for allegedly facilitating opening of 29 ‘fake’ bank accounts in three private banks. One such bank account maintained in Summit Bank was used for suspicious transactions to several business entities, including M/s Zardari Group, M/s Omni Group and others.

A case was registered against them under Sections 419 (punishment for cheating by personation), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document) and 109 (abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 5(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 and Sections 3 and 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010.