Bilawal summoned in money laundering case

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairman of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) speaks during an interview with Reuters in District Thatta, Pakistan, July 2, 2018. (REUTERS/File)
Updated 25 November 2018
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Bilawal summoned in money laundering case

  • Fake transactions of PKR35 bn run through fake accounts
  • High-end Dubai properties traced back to opposition figures

ISLAMABAD: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has been summoned by a team probing fake transactions of PKR35 billion, officials confirmed to the Arab News Sunday.
It is the first time that Bilawal, chair of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party, has been summoned by the six-member Joint Investigation Team.
The JIT has requested his presence on November 28. His father and former president Asif Ali Zardari has been summoned for November 29.
“Bilawal Bhutto is shareholder and director of Zardari Group Private Limited Company and it is linked to the fake bank accounts. “That’s why he has been summoned to appear before the JIT,” Mohammad Ali, assistant director of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), said.
All the evidence and material collected during the investigations into the fake bank accounts case have been handed over to the JIT for further inquiry. 
“I am not aware of the fact if the JIT has found any new evidence linked to the case,” he added.
Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and several of their business associates are being probed as part of a 2015 case about money laundering through fake bank accounts. 
The FIA unearthed fake transactions of PKR35 billion run through 29 fake bank accounts and assets tracing back to Pakistan’s Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs), allegedly kept by frontmen.
The FIA has issued notices to two men, Hamid Samo and Ghulam Abbas Zardari, local media reported. 
Samo owns four high-end properties in a prominent area of Dubai and declared his assets to be worth PKR650 million in June, under the government’s tax amnesty scheme. FIA officials say Samo’s permanent address, on his national identity card, is that of Talpur’s in Karachi.
Local media reported FIA officials as saying that Ghulam Abbasi Zardari owns property in Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, worth PKR70 million with a general power of attorney entrusted to Talpur. 
The FIA has already arrested some friends and business partners of the former president in connection with the case. They include Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed, his son Abdul Ghani Majeed and former chairman of the Pakistan Stock Exchange Hussain Lawai. 
Zardari and Talpur have obtained bail from the banking court.
Farhatullah Babar, PPP secretary general, said the case against the party’s leadership was politically motivated and fabricated.
“Even if Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is summoned by the court, it will be of no issue,” he told Arab News.
“We have our defense in the courts and will respond to summons. However (we) don’t want to respond to persistent and vicious media trial (of the leadership),” he added. 
The PPP is a major opposition party in the National Assembly and Senate. It is in power for the third time in Sindh province since 2008.
Political analysts said the ongoing investigation into fake bank accounts was hurting the party leadership’s reputation.
“Unfortunately the PPP leadership has so far failed to present a robust rebuttal to reports of its involvement in money laundering and fake bank accounts,” Professor Tahir Malik told Arab News.
“The PPP will have to pay heavy political costs if its leadership fails to prove its innocence in the case,” he added.


Man who killed newlywed during robbery executed in Texas

Alvin Braziel appears in a booking photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Austin, Texas, US, December 10, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 33 min 59 sec ago
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Man who killed newlywed during robbery executed in Texas

  • The Whites, who had only been married 10 days, didn’t have any money on them but told Braziel they could get him some and they started walking back to their truck

HUNTSVILLE, Texas: A Texas inmate was executed Tuesday evening for fatally shooting a newlywed during a robbery more than 25 years ago.
Alvin Braziel Jr., 43, received lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the 1993 slaying of 27-year-old Douglas White, who was attacked as he and his wife walked on a jogging trail.
Braziel became the 24th inmate put to death this year in the US and the 13th executed in Texas, the nation’s busiest capital punishment state. He will be the last Texas inmate executed this year.
The execution was delayed about 90 minutes after the six-hour window defined by the warrant began at 6 p.m. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected a last-minute appeal from Braziel’s attorneys.
As Douglas and Lora White walked along a community college jogging trail in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, Braziel jumped out from behind some bushes with a pistol in his hand and demanded money.
The Whites, who had only been married 10 days, didn’t have any money on them but told Braziel they could get him some and they started walking back to their truck. But Braziel became angry with the couple and ordered them to the ground.
“Doug ... was praying, asked God to forgive him and Lora their sins because they both knew that this was it,” said Michael Bradshaw, the lead detective on the case for Mesquite police. “The last thing Doug said before Braziel fired the first round, he said, ‘Please God, don’t let him hurt Lora.’“
Braziel shot White once in the head and once in his heart.
Bradshaw said he believes Braziel would have also shot then-24-year-old Lora White but his gun malfunctioned. Braziel instead took her to bushy area near the trail and sexually assaulted her.
Douglas White’s murder was featured on the television show “America’s Most Wanted” and a $20,000 reward was raised by the chiropractic college he had worked for as an electrician. Bradshaw said more than 40 potential suspects were interrogated and had their blood drawn for testing.
But White’s murder remained unsolved for over seven years.
“I really didn’t know that I would ever be able to solve it. But I really did not give up hope,” said Bradshaw, 63, who retired from Mesquite police in 2012.
Braziel was eventually tied to the killing in 2001 after he was imprisoned for sexual assault in an unrelated case and his DNA matched evidence from Lora White’s assault.
At his trial, Braziel said he wasn’t near the college during the killing.
Braziel’s attorneys didn’t immediately reply to emails and calls seeking comment on Tuesday.
Last week, his lawyers asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to stop his execution, arguing in part he should not receive lethal injection because he is intellectually disabled.
The Supreme Court held in 2002 that people convicted of murder who are intellectually disabled cannot be executed.
Braziel’s attorneys later withdrew their request.
Courts had previously turned down Braziel’s appeals that have focused on claims of mental illness and that he had suffered a childhood brain injury, saying Braziel refused to be examined by a mental health expert during his trial and that his family declined to help his defense attorneys obtain evidence of any mental health problems in Braziel’s family.
His attorneys also filed a last-minute appeal Tuesday, arguing that an emotional outburst at the 2001 murder trial from Lora White was unfairly elicited by prosecutors when she was shown on the witness stand a photo of her husband’s autopsied body.
Bradshaw said he still keeps in contact with Lora White and that she started a new life and is doing well.
“Lora wants it known that she’s prayed for Alvin Braziel and his family,” Bradshaw said.