Cases that may haunt Benazir even after NRO

November 14th, 2007 - 3:04 am ICT by admin  
The Swiss money-laundering case, which is at an advanced stage, wherein Geneva magistrate Daniel Devaud convicted Bhutto on money laundering in 2003, is waiting for conclusion.

In his judgement, Devaud found that Bhutto and her close associates received around 15 million dollars in kickbacks from the Pakistan Government contracts with SGS and Cotecna, the two Swiss companies.

“I certainly don’t have any doubts about the judgements I handed down (which) came after an investigation lasting several years, involving thousands of documents,” the BBC quoted Devaud, as saying.

Bhutto contested the decision, and the case is now being reheard, the report said.

Many in Pakistan assume that the Swiss case will now collapse because of the deal struck between Bhutto and President Pervez Musharraf, according to the BBC.

“Yet under Swiss law, even if the Pakistan Government stops co-operating, that would not automatically end legal proceedings in Switzerland,” the report said.

A second case involving Bhutto is under way in England, according to the BBC.

In this case the Pakistan Government alleged that Bhutto and her husband bought Rockwood, a 3.4 million-dollar country estate in Surrey, using the money from kickbacks.

“Bhutto and Zardari denied owning the estate for eight years. But in 2004, Zardari suddenly admitted that it was his,” it said. Then, in 2006, an English judge, Lord Justice Collins, came to an interesting conclusion about the estate.

“While stressing he was not making any findings of fact, Justice Collins said there was a reasonable prospect of the Pakistan Government establishing, in possible future court proceedings, that Bhutto and/or her husband bought and refurbished Rockwood with the fruits of corruption.”

According to the National Accountability Bureau, Bhutto also owned the company, Petroline FZC, “which traded 144 million dollars of Iraqi oil, and forwarded two million dollars to the Saddam Hussein regime”. (ANI)

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