IHC rejects bail for Asif Ali Zardari and his sister

IHC rejects bail for Asif Ali Zardari and his sister

Former Pakistani President and the co-chairperson of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari (2L) arrives for his bail appeal at Islamabad High Court on June 10, 2019. (AFP Photo)

A Pakistani court on Monday rejected a plea for pre-arrest bail for former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister in the fake bank accounts case, a ruling that paves the way for the country's top anti-graft body to arrest the accused duo.

A two-member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) rejected an application seeking extension in the pre-arrest bails of Zardari and Faryal Talpur. However, they could not be arrested as the bench reserved the verdict and only announced it when the duo had left the court.

The arrest warrants were issued on Sunday by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the anti-corruption watchdog, which is probing them in the fake bank accounts case.

The case pertains to the use of alleged fake bank accounts to keep money and transferring it out of Pakistan.

According to the NAB officials, the duo made transactions of Rs 150 million through alleged fake bank accounts.

After the rejection of the bail, the two can be arrested anytime by the NAB, which already has set up two teams for it.

Zardari and Talpur, however, have an option to lodge an appeal in the Supreme Court against the verdict.

The cases against Zardari are part of the investigations being conducted by NAB in pursuance of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the money laundering of billions through fake accounts case.

On May 14, the anti-corruption unit furnished details of inquiries, investigations and references in the fake accounts case.

In the report, NAB listed down at least eight cases where Zardari's link had been established. It further added that 22 inquiries and three investigations were underway while three references had been filed.

In December 2015, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) began a discreet investigation into certain bank accounts through which multi-billion rupee transactions were made.

By June, the FIA had several high-profile names on its list but was unable to make headway–for several reasons.

The Supreme Court intervened and then chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar took notice of the 'slow progress' in the money-laundering case. In July, Zardari's close aides Hussain Lawai, Taha Raza and two others were arrested.

The apex court also ordered the formation of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to quicken the pace of the investigation.

The JIT identified 11,500 bank accounts and 924 account holders at the start of their investigation. 

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