PPP chairperson Bilawal appears before NAB

ISLAMABAD: PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari appeared before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) today for a hearing regarding a case related to the company JV Opal 255

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PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokar had confirmed Bilawal’s appearance before the accountability bureau.

“Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will appear before the NAB despite the fact that the NAB notice to him is just political victimisation. The PPP chairman believes in the supremacy of the law of the land,” Khokar said.

Khokar noted that NAB sent Bilawal a notice within the week after he protested against the PTI’s ‘anti-poor’ economic policies.

“NAB sends a notice to Bilawal whenever he criticises the government,” he alleged.

“The Supreme Court has already declared Bilawal innocent. This is nothing but political victimisation by NAB,” he added.

The PPP chairman will record his statement with regard to the alleged transfer of over Rs1 billion from the accounts of JV Opel-225.

This is not the first time the accountability watchdog has summoned the PPP chairman for questioning.

The NAB had earlier summoned him last year on May 29 to record his statement in the money laundering case. He had also been summoned on May 17 in relation to the Park Lane case.

The case against Bilawal for which he has been summoned relates to a company titled JV Opal 225. The company is a joint venture between the Zardari Group Pvt. Ltd — of which Bilawal is a director — and a large real-estate business.

JV Opal was set up in 2011 and had its office on a property in Karachi owned by the Zardari Group. From 2011 to 2013, the company did not generate any revenue, yet it purchased major assets, agriculture lands, commercial and residential properties in Islamabad and Karachi, according to a joint investigation team (JIT) report.

The only amount it received, during this period, was Rs1.2 billion from its business partner, the real-estate firm, which, according to the JIT report, was not due to the Zardari Group.

The investigators suspect that this payment was made by the real-estate company as a bribe or kickback for getting favours from the Sindh government in the form of illegal allotment of state land.

While the JIT has not been able to make a direct link between the Bhutto scion and the fake accounts, it states that money stashed in these fictitious bank accounts was used to pay the water and sewerage bill of the Bilawal House; an amount to a restaurant that catered an event; to purchase airplane tickets for Bilawal and his younger sister; and to renovate his bomb-proof container and bullet-proof vehicles.

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