Pakistan’s ex-president Asif Zardari named in money-laundering case

Pakistan’s ex-president Asif Zardari named in money-laundering case
Former Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari listens to his son and chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (unseen) during the party manifesto presentation for the forthcoming general election during a press conference in Islamabad on June 28, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 08 July 2018

Pakistan’s ex-president Asif Zardari named in money-laundering case

Pakistan’s ex-president Asif Zardari named in money-laundering case
  • The inclusion of former president’s name, Zardari, in the case signifies pre-poll rigging, says his spokesperson, Farhatullah Babar
  • Pakistan People’s Party’s election campaign has been spearheaded by Zardari’s son, Bilawal Bhutto

KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Saturday obtained the remand of Hussain Lawai, Chairman Central Depository Company (CDC) and a close aide of Pakistan’s former president, Asif Ali Zardari, after registering a case against him and others for using a fake account to launder Rs35 billion ($288 million).
According to a case registered by FIA’s Banking Circle Karachi, the former president and leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, Asif Ali Zardari, and his sister, Faryal Talpur, are among 13 people who benefited from the arrangement.
The police first investigation report (FIR) says that M/S Zardari Group (Asif Ali Zardari, Faryal Talpur, etc) got Rs15,000,000 and were among the beneficiaries of the transaction trail of fake bank accounts maintained by Omni Group, owned by Anwar Majeed, another close aide of the former president.
Different entities owned by Majeed can be found in the list of depositors and beneficiaries of the fake bank account maintained in the name of a citizen without his approval.
The FIR found that one of the depositors in the fake account turned out to be M/S Bahria Town Karachi project and Zain Malik, who had deposited Rs750,000,000. Both Malik and the spokesperson of his Bahria Town Karachi project did not respond to Arab News’ requests for a comment.
Muhammad Ali Abro, assistant director of FIA’s Karachi Banking Circle, informed the local magistrate that during the inquiry into the suspicious transaction of 29 accounts, it was established that one of them was fraudulently opened in the name of Tariq Sultan by using his national identity card.
“This account was subsequently used to place illegitimate funds for purposes of money-laundering,” reads the FIR, a copy of which is available with Arab News.
According to the FIA, when Sultan denied he had opened the account, the agency started conducting its inquiry and the signatures on bank documents were found to be forged.
The FIA obtained the money trail and interviewed those involving the opening of a fake account, leading the agency to conclude that Hussain Lawai, the then chairman of Summit Bank, had ordered the opening of the fake account for money-laundering purposes. According to the agency, the investigation of another 28 accounts is under way.
Pleading not guilty out of the court of the local magistrate, Lawai told the media he did not know if he was arrested because of Asif Ali Zardari. “Only time will tell why I have been targeted,” he said.
An FIA spokesperson told Arab News that the offense had occurred between 2014 and 2015. However, the Pakistan People’s Party and independent analysts have been questioning the timings of the investigation and arrest for different reasons.
“Asif Ali Zardari has also been maligned in the past. I am really not surprised to see his name in the FIR,” Farhatullah Babar, former president’s spokesperson, told Arab News.
“To me, this seems to be part of pre-polls rigging. Zardari spent 11 years in jail without conviction. The present bubble will also burst into nothingness,” he added.
Senior analyst Mazhar Abbas claimed the appearance of Zardari’s name in the money-laundering case seemed to be an effort to dispel the impression that federal institutions such as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), had only singled out the former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif.
“In the foreseeable future, we may also see action against the former president-general, Pervez Musharraf,” Abbas told Arab News.
Fazil Jamili, another Karachi-based political analyst, maintained that the FIR was part of the establishment’s minus-one formula, which, he said, was being applied to all major political parties. “After minus-Altaf and minus-Nawaz, it seems to be Asif Ali Zardari’s turn,” he said.
He added: “This is a significant development and may produce negative election results for PPP since it is likely to damage the party’s credibility.”
As the situation stands, the former president’s son, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, is running his party’s election campaign and addressing public rallies in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab. 




Copy of the FIR by the Federal Investigation Agency that names Pakistan’s former president, Asif Ali Zardari, and his sister in a fake account to launder Rs35 billion.




Copy of the FIR by the Federal Investigation Agency that names Pakistan’s former president, Asif Ali Zardari, and his sister in a fake account to launder Rs35 billion.




Copy of the FIR by the Federal Investigation Agency that names Pakistan’s former president, Asif Ali Zardari, and his sister in a fake account to launder Rs35 billion.

 


Afghan refugee helping war widows escape poverty cycle

Afghan refugee helping war widows escape poverty cycle
Updated 16 January 2021

Afghan refugee helping war widows escape poverty cycle

Afghan refugee helping war widows escape poverty cycle

KABUL: When Hanan Habibzai became a refugee in 2008, he left Afghanistan with a sense of responsibility toward all those left behind, especially widows and orphaned children.
As he made the UK his new home and managed to establish himself, Habibzai founded Helping Orphans in 2016, a charity that gives vocational training and literacy courses to women and children.
Helping Orphans estimates that there are as many as 3.5 million widows and 2.6 million orphans in Afghanistan today. Often uneducated, the women face few options if their husbands die, while children end up working out of necessity and never receive an education.
“What will happen to these children when they grow up? Their parents are taken away and they are left alone in poverty and hardship, and they have never been in school,” Habibzai told Arab News.
“What can we expect from these children when they grow and take control of their communities except problems? So, I established this charity to help vulnerable children and orphans join school. These are the exact reasons as to why I established Helping Orphans.”
As his family was displaced by the Afghan-Soviet war of the 1980s, Habibzai knows from his own experience what hunger and poverty mean. The situation in the country has become even worse now, he said, after the US-led invasion to oust the Taliban in 2001.
Before he left Afghanistan, Habibzai worked as a journalist, traveling across the country’s provinces, witnessing hopelessness and despair.
“Within the Afghan poverty-stricken and war-torn nation, I see displaced families, a refugee going through many difficulties, a 10-year-old orphan becoming responsible for feeding his family, or a woman who has lost her husband and now has to look after her children while she has nothing,” he said.

FASTFACT

Helping Orphans estimates that there are as many as 3.5 million widows and 2.6 million orphans in Afghanistan today. Often uneducated, the women face few options if their husbands die, while children end up working out of necessity and never receive an education.

“Today I live in the UK. I have everything here. My family and I have three full meals a day. But back in Afghanistan, there are many people who do not even have a single meal a day and are facing severe poverty and hardship.”
The latest survey by the UN indicates that 18 million people in Afghanistan — half of the country’s population — are in need of emergency aid.
In the beginning, through donations from individuals, Helping Orphans provided direct relief in the form of food and cash, but in June last year Habibzai realized that more sustainable efforts were needed.
In Kabul, the charity now enrolls children in school while their mothers take part in three-month courses to become tailors, allowing them to be self-reliant. About 20 women have completed the first training courses. One of them is Shamila, who lost her husband, a commando soldier, and was left alone with a young son about two years ago.
“The world had come to an end for me with the death of his father when my child wept,” she told Arab News.
“I joined the workshop of the charity, learned tailoring and it has been a big change both mentally and financially,” she added. “I am a tailor at home now. I earn money this way and have been able to stand on my feet.”
The charity is now planning to open more courses and teach other professions, like hairdressing, to help women provide for themselves.
“We want the aid to have a long-term impact on the lives of people, so beneficiaries can learn a profession,” said Helping Orphans Director Abdul Fatah Tayeb.
“We want them to learn how to fish rather than giving them a fish. The fundamental goal is to make people self-sufficient.”