Sindh CM appears before NAB in fake bank accounts case

RAWALPINDI: Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Monday appeared before the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) Rawalpindi branch in connection with the long-running fake bank accounts case.

A five-member NAB investigative team probed the Sindh chief minister for over an hour. Irfan Naeem Mangi, who is the head of the joint investigation team probing the case, also met Shah upon arrival at the old NAB headquarters.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders Qamar Zaman Kaira, Nayyar Bokhari and Mustafa Khokhar accompanied the Sindh chief minister to the headquarters of the accountability watchdog.

Speaking to the media following his appearance, Shah said, "I appeared before NAB for the first time. I have nothing to hide and am fully prepared for an investigation."

"I answered all their questions and assured NAB of my full cooperation. I expressed reservations that the JIT report's conclusion was wrong and the counsel of the investigative team admitted that. The chief justice also stated that PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is innocent," he added.

"My media trial is being conducted," the Sindh CM further said. "I came here today on my personal expenses and hundreds of guards were deployed here, however, had I been asked to appear in Karachi I would have appeared quietly. The case is being heard in Rawalpindi but all the people are in Karachi and none of our experiences in Rawalpindi have been good," he added.

Earlier ahead of his appearance before NAB, Shah held a consultative meeting with party leaders at the Sindh House. The anti-graft body, through a notification issued to Shah, had asked him to make an appearance at the old NAB headquarters on March 26. The chief minister, however, had requested to appear a day earlier, which was approved. Shah had been instructed to bring along all records pertaining to the Thatta Sugar Mills, as investigation continues into the mega money laundering and fake accounts case.

The case

The FIA is investigating more than 30 people in relation to money laundering from fictitious accounts, including Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur. Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai was arrested in July 2018 in connection with the probe. The former president’s other close aide and Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed a close aide and Omni Group chairman and his son, Abdul Ghani, were arrested by FIA in August 2018. Several ‘benami’ accounts at multiple private banks were opened in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from where transactions worth billions of rupees were made, according to sources. The amount, according to FIA sources, is said to be black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.

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