Pakistan

Zardari gets relief under NAB law tweaks

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An accountability court in Islamabad on Thursday sent the Thatta water supply reference against PPP Co-Chairperson and former president Asif Ali Zardari back to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), saying that it no longer fell in its domain after the present government’s changes in the relevant law.

The reference was heard by Accountability Court Judge Rana Nasir Javed, who announced his reserved verdict in the case.

The court observed that as the case no longer fell within its jurisdiction after the amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), it should be forwarded to a relevant forum.

Earlier, Zardari also filed a plea for sending the mega-money laundering reference pertaining to the fake accounts back to NAB under the new law.

Zardari’s lawyer Farooq H Naek and the NAB prosecutor appeared before the accountability court.

Read more: Shujaat, Zardari discuss no-trust vote in NA

Presenting his arguments over sending the reference against Zardari and his sister, Faryal Talpur, back to NAB, Naek said his clients faced charges of transferring around Rs35 billion through 29 fake accounts.

He contended that neither NAB had produced any evidence in connection with the case, nor the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor sent the matter to the anti-graft body.

It was further argued that after the new changes in the NAB law, the case no longer fell in the court’s domain and so it should be sent back to the anti-graft body.

After listening to the arguments, Judge Javed reserved his judgment.

The one-day exemption from court appearance appeals of Zardari, Talpur and the other co-accused in the case were also accepted.

The same court also heard the Park Lane reference against Zardari.

Naek and the NAB prosecutor appeared before Judge Javed in this case too.

During the hearing, one-day exemption from court appearance appeals were filed on behalf of Zardari and other suspects in the case.

Accepting the appeals, the court directed the parties to present their arguments in the case on the next date of hearing on January 25.

The Thatta water supply reference was part of the fake accounts and money laundering case filed by NAB against the PPP leader.

It pertained to the alleged illegal awarding of contracts to private contractors for the water scheme.

According to the reference, Harish and Company had taken a contract for water supply from the Special Initiative Department of Sindh but had not initiated any work on the project. It was further alleged that the funds had been used to meet the expenses of Naudero House.

NAB claimed that Harish and Company was the frontline firm of Zardari’s Park Lane Estate which caused a loss of Rs60 million to the national exchequer.

In the mega money laundering charges, the former president, his sister and several of their business associates were being probed as part of a 2015 case involving fake accounts and fictitious transactions.

The main reference in the Park Lane case accused Zardari of influencing relevant authorities during his tenure as the president – from 2008 to 2013 – to obtain loans for his front companies.

The former president allegedly received a loan of Rs1.5 billion released for Parthenon Private Limited “with ill intention”, and the money was later transferred for his personal use through fake bank accounts.

NAB accused the former president of causing the national exchequer a loss of Rs3.77 billion.

The anti-graft body later filed a supplementary reference against Zardari in the Park Lane case, accusing him of using fake documents to acquire a bank loan for a dummy corporation.

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