Monday, October 15, 2007

Deal with Musharraf allows Benazir to reclaim her Swiss wealth

DailyIndia.com

From our ANI Correspondent

London, Oct 14: An agreement between former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and President General Pervez Musharraf has not only paved the way for the PPP chief's return to Pakistan, but it is also reported to have allowed the former to reclaim her hundreds of millions of pounds frozen in Swiss bank accounts.

According to a report in the Times, Islamabad has cleared the way for Benazir and her husband to reclaim 740 million pounds in Swiss bank accounts.

The report, filed by Dean Nelson from Lahore and Ghulam Hasnain, quoted senior anticorruption officials as saying that their assets allegedly included a 10-bedroom, mock-Tudor Surrey mansion and 740 million pounds, which was amassed from kickbacks on government contracts during Benazir's two terms as Prime Minister.

According to Hassan Waseem Afzal, a civil servant who led the Bhutto investigation for 10 years, the deal with Musharraf to drop the corruption charges against Benazir, which would allow her to return home from exile this week, would unlock the frozen accounts.

The accounts were registered in the names of Bhutto's mother, Begum Nusrat Bhutto, and Zardari, a former minister, said the report, which appeared in the Sunday Times.

However, Afzal, who was deputy head of Pakistan's anticorruption National Accountability Bureau (NAB), said that the Pakistan government and a Swiss magistrate had obtained evidence that Bhutto herself was a beneficiary.

Bhutto's chief spokesman had last week quoted her as denying owning any of the frozen accounts.

She is scheduled to return from her self-exile on October 18, and is expected to become Prime Minister again after parliamentary elections in January if Constitutional ban on serving more than two terms is revoked.

Bhutto and Zardari, who spent seven years in prison in Pakistan on corruption charges, were convicted in absentia by a Swiss court in 2003, the daily said, adding that the Swiss magistrate found that during her second term as Prime Minister she enriched herself or her husband with kickbacks from a government contract with two Swiss companies.

As per the agreement, Bhutto did not oppose Musharraf's re-election as President on October 6. In return, Musharraf announced an amnesty for all Pakistani politicians and officials accused of corruption between 1986 and 1999.

Copyright Dailyindia.com/ANI

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