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ISLAMABAD: The Accountability Court hearing multi-billion rupees fake bank accounts case observed that former president Asif Ali Zardari is prima facie involved in the Rs8.3 billion suspicious transactions through fake bank accounts case.

The Accountability Court-III judge, Syed Asghar Ali, in detailed order regarding the rejection of Zardari's acquittal in the Rs8 billion suspicious transaction reference under the recently promulgated accountability ordinance, ruled that it is an irrefutable fact that Zardari was a public office holder.

The new NAB ordinance does not apply on public office holders, the order says.

The Accountability Court on October 14 rejected Zardari's petition which he filed through his counsel Farooq H Naek.

According to the order, as far as the plea raised by the counsel of the petitioner that there are contradictions in the documents of filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as well as material discrepancies in the statements of witness recorded are concerned at this staged court is not required to went into deeper appreciation of the facts of this case as the same can only be carried out after recording of evidence.

Fake bank accounts case: AC turns down Zardari's acquittal plea

The order further says that admittedly petitioner was a holder of public office during the course of alleged occurrence, wherein, he allegedly manipulated and managed to get illegal gains through accused Mushtaq Ahmed by committing the alleged offences under section 265-D of CrPC this court can proceed with trial of the accused, if the court is of the opinion, that the reference, investigation report, and other document annexed therein are sufficient to proceed with the trial.

The accused petitioner is prima facie involved in this case.

Hence for these reasons, the application filed by the petitioner is found not maintainable and hereby dismissed.

The order says that the defence counsel, while concluding his preliminary arguments submitted that there is no probability and possibility of conviction of the petitioner.

He further added that this court may refrain from framing charge against the petitioner and the petitioner may kindly be acquitted from this case.

The order says that the pleas raised by the defence counsel for petitioner are not in consonance in cases, wherein, a public office holder is an accused under the NAO amended ordinance 2021.

The allegations against the accused are specific as defined under section 9(a), (iii), (vi) and (xii) of the NAO read with section 3 and 4 of the Money Laundering Act 2010, whereby, he dishonestly and fraudulently misused his authority for illegal gain by committing money laundering through his co-accused namely, Mushtaq Ahmed, who already declared proclaimed offender and another person namely, Zain Malik, who in this case entered into plea bargain and have already returned illegal gain of Rs31,794,564 under Section 25-B of NAO, 1999.

It says that investigation further reveals that the present petitioner dishonestly and fraudulently declared the cost of acquisition of house no 32, block no 04, Clifton, Karachi through illegal means against consideration of Rs53.3 million in his wealth statement with the FBR and the statements of assets and liabilities submitted with the Election Commission of Pakistan during general elections 2018.

This was done to cancel the true value of the property, which was acquired illegally without consideration and he also reduced the value of property to launder the illegitimate money acquired as a consequence of corruption and corrupt practices, which in an offence under the NAO, 1999.

The present accused wrongfully gained and acquired the property through illegal means and with disproportionate amount, which has been routed through the above mentioned joint account by using the Mushtaq Ahmed accused as his trusted and close associate/Benamidar along with convict Zain Malik.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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