KARACHI - A banking court on Tuesday extended the interim bail of former president Asif Ali Zardari, Faryal Talpur and others in the money laundry case until October 16.

Co-Chairman of Pakistan People Party (PPP), Asif Ali Zardar, his sister Faryal Talpur and other accused appeared before the court amid tight security in a case pertaining money laundry through fake account case.  

During the hearing, an application has been submitted on behalf of an accused Omni Group Chairman, Anwar Majeed sought unfreeze its accounts. The prosecution has raised objection by stating that the Supreme Court had directed the trail court not to issue a ruling on Omni Group’s petition to unfreeze its accounts. However, Anwar Majeed’s lawyer has disagreed with the prosecutor’s arguments and contended that the apex court did not restrain the court on presenting arguments regarding the matter, the counsel requested the court to hear his arguments. In his application, the defence counsel requested the court to unfreeze Omni Group’s bank accounts citing the impact it had on the group’s employees; however, the court refused to allow the plea on urgent basis and adjourned the hearing on the plea till September 27.

The court also cited that the Supreme Court’s directions by observing that the matter was under-proceed in the apex court, and the trial court will not hear the plea till the judgment.

According to the FIA prosecution, a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has found 33 more suspicious accounts in the fake bank accounts case. The JIT has been formed on the orders of the apex court, has been investigating a 2015 case regarding fake accounts and fictitious transactions conducted through 29 ‘benami’ accounts in Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and United Bank Limited.

The FIA has also informed the court about the non-arrest of the absconders and submitted that several raids have been initiated but their arrest was not made, the official pleaded the court to grant further time to arrest and produce the absconders.

The court issued non-bailable arrest warrants of the five absconders including Hussain Lotha, Arif Khan, Azam Wazeer Khan, and adjourned the hearing till September 16.  Asif Ali Zardari, Faryal Talpur and others have been investigated in a case pertaining money laundering through at least 29 fake accounts, along with former Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) chairman Hussain Lawai and Summit Bank Senior Vice-President Taha Raza. Zardari and Faryal Talpur are on interim bail.

A seven-member JIT led by FIA Additional Director General Najaf Mirza is carrying out the investigation.

The case was initially registered in 2015 against former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Hussain Lawai, who is widely believed to be close to former president Asif Ali Zardari.

Later, seven individuals, including Zardari and Talpur, were said to have been found involved in using those accounts for suspicious transactions which totalled Rs35 billion. The accounts were allegedly used to channel funds received through kickbacks. The main accused, Lawai and banker Taha Raza were detained and booked for allegedly facilitating the opening of 29 ‘fake’ accounts through which suspicious transactions were made to different companies, including M/s Zardari Group.