KARACHI - A banking court in Karachi reserved judgment on bail applications filed by Hussain Lawai and Talha Raza accused in money laundering case, until August 16.

The FIA banking court on Thursday conducted hearing on bail applications filed by the accused, but the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) investigation officer remained absent. The education documents and other required papers from the accused were produced in the court.

The defence counsels Advocate Shaukat Hayat and Advocate Imam Haider Rizvi have alleged that the FIA had been adopting delaying tactics; they pleaded the court to take notice of the FIA’s tactics and decide the bail pleas without any further delay.

The Special Public Prosecutor submitted a medical certificate on behalf of the IO and said that he is still not feeling well; he requested the court to adjourn the matter for the next hearing. The court refused the prosecution’s plea and directed the FIA to ensure the IO’s presence and the police file, in the next date otherwise the court will issue direction on the bail pleas of Lawai and Raza after hearing one-sided arguments.

Advocate Haider Imam Rizvi have also moved applications on behalf of the detained bankers under Rule 248 of the Pakistan Prisons Rules, arguing that his clients were highly educated and had distinguished careers.

He mentioned that Mr Lawai, a 78-year-old banker, had served as president of the Summit Bank from 2008-2016, while Mr Raza, the head of the Unit Corporate Department at the same bank, was also a highly qualified chartered accountant.

He requested the court to direct the prison authorities that B-class facilities be provided to the detained bankers in prison.

Lawai has served as the chairperson of the Pakistan Stock Exchange and head of Summit Bank.

The FIA has declared Zadari, Talpur and Omni group’s Anwar Majeed among absconders in the money-laundering case.

According to the prosecution, as many as 29 bank accounts belonging to seven people have been used to launder around Rs30 billion in Sindh, and it is said to be the ‘biggest money laundering case in Sindh.

The prosecution stated that these people made accounts in three banks, including Summit Bank and Sindh Bank. The accounts are reportedly used by Anwar Majeed, another of Zardari’s close aides, and employees of the Omni Group. Majeed has not appeared in court despite multiple notices being issued to him.

Summit Bank alone had 16 accounts with transactions of Rs20 billion. Baharia Town head Malik Riaz’s son Zain Malik and Shahrukh Jatoi’s father Sikandar Jatoi had put money in the accounts. Zain reportedly put Rs2 billion in the accounts.

The FIA has said that it fears that the accounts are used to launder kickbacks from Baharia Town and other housing projects.

While talking to The Nation, Advocate Shaukat Hayat said that FIA officials have violated the law as they arrested the accused without producing any solid evidence, and it was also violation of the Supreme Court’s judgment.

“The FIA investigators have failed to prove that how the bank accounts, which they have mentioned in the case, were used for the money laundry” said Advocate Hayat, counsel of Hussain Lawai in the trail court. He said that neither the FIA has presented any proofs against the accused nor it produced any details about the bogus accounts allegedly allowed by Lawai.

On the other side, senior lawyer Farooq H Naek represented Zardari in the apex court, has said that the money-laundering case against both Zardari and Talpur was the worst case of political victimization. Naik also accused FIA of violating SC orders, saying that the agency’s actions warranted a contempt of court case. He said that the FIA prosecution alleged that Rs150 billion are deposited in the account of Zardari Group. He made it clear that Asif Zardari had nothing to do with Zardari Company. Asif Zardari had never exercised any active role in the said company.

Mr Naek said that, Asif Zardari and Faryal Talpur had not been nominated among the 10 suspects of the case.He said that the FIA had summoned Faryal Talpur on July 9 after the case was registered. A notice was sent in accordance with provision 160 of the CRPC, according to which subjects should provide information if they had any.

Earlier, Farooq H Naek had also filed a plea to replace the JIT head Nafaf Mirza and constitute a new investigative team to conduct the probe, he submitted that Zardari got an FIR registered against Najaf Mirza back in 2005. Expressing his reservations about the JIT head, the counsel said that a transparent investigation is not possible if Mirza is not replaced. But the court rejected the appeal of Zardari’s plea.