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Verdict reserved on NAB plea to transfer money laundering case

KARACHI: A banking court in Karachi on Monday reserved its verdict on an application of the National Accountability Burea (NAB) seeking transfer of a money laundering case against former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and other accused to Islamabad.

The court reserved the verdict after hearing arguments of both defence and prosecution sides and announced to pronounce it on March 15.

Meanwhile, the judge extended the interim bail granted to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman and his sister until March 15.

Zardari didn’t appear before the court as his counsel submitted an application seeking exemption from personal appearance in today’s hearing. However, Ms Talpur turned up in the court amid tight security.

Defence counsel Farooq H Naek informed the judge that Zardari was busy in Islamabad owing to the National Assembly sessions and demanded that he be allowed exemption from personal appearance.

He also filed his objections on a NAB plea to transfer the case from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to Karachi, saying the Supreme Court had passed no such directives as the bureau was misinterpreting the apex court’s ruling in the case.

He requested the judge to reject the transfer plea which, according to him, was aimed at influencing the case.

The counsel said a case which falls within NAB’s jurisdiction could only be transferred to it as its mandate is to handle cases involving deceit and losses inflicted on the government exchequer. “This case doesn’t fall within the ambit of NAB,” he stressed.

After Naek concluded his arguments, the counsels for accused Hussain Lawai, a famous banker, and other accused began forwarding his arguments on the NAB plea.

Earlier, on Feb 14, the FIA prosecutor had stated before the court that there was no justification to hear the bail petitions of the suspects.

Farooq H Naek, who represented the PPP leaders, said it was FIA’s responsibility to submit a final charge-sheet.

Over the course of the hearing, the judge asked investigation officer Muhammad Ali Abro about the progress of the case, to which he replied that they were transferring the case to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as per the Supreme Court orders.

However, the defence counsel said the SC had passed no such order that directed the bureau to file a reference.

The judge directed the prosecutor to either submit a challan or a petition to transfer the case to the corruption watchdog.

The FIA prosecutor further informed that the record was being transferred and they were in touch with the NAB occials in this record.

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