Thursday, September 22, 2005

Benazir and the Swiss Chamber of Secrets

Yesterday Benazir Bhutto appeared before judge Vincent Fournier at Geneva’s Palais de Justice to answer questions on allegations that she had used Swiss banks to launder millions of dollars in kickbacks.

According to
European press the Judge had this to say:

“I can confirm Mrs. Bhutto as here,” Fournier said. “It was a very long meeting.”Fournier said “it is expected” that Bhutto will return to Geneva for another meeting, but was unable to give a date. He declined to comment further on the subject of yesterday’s session.
Considering the Swiss judge had declined to reveal the deliberations taken place in his court, some of our local press have been more forthcoming.

This is what
Zulfiqar Ghuman of the Daily Times had to say (with information probably fed by military spokesmen from NAB):
  • “Benazir looked very emotional throughout the hearing that lasted for over eight hours and tried to politicise the case, accusing the military of ousting her from power and registering cases against her with political motives”.
  • “About the money deposited in Swiss banks in the names of Nusrat Bhutto, Zardari and Nasir Hussain, Benazir said she was unaware of the bank accounts and had nothing to do with her family members’ business. She did not comment on the statement that the offshore companies received millions of dollars in “commissions” for the award of SGS COTECNA pre-shipment inspection contracts. She denied involvement in the contracts".
  • "Schlegelmilch had signed an agreement, saying that assets of the Bomer Finance Company would be equally divided between Zardari and Benazir families after the former’s death. Benazir denied any knowledge of the document, saying any information on the document should be sought from Schlegelmilch."
  • " Schlegelmilch said a company run by Zardari had paid for jewellery costing £120,000 for Benazir, but she refused to accept it. Asked why she had refused to accept the gift, Benazir said her mother had told her that the gift was “inappropriate”. She also said that it was her personal affair to accept or reject any gift."

Now if these allegations are true then one can surmise that Benazir Bhutto’s line of defence is to dump all the blame onto her husband and others – thereby saving herself and her leadership of the PPP.

If she actually admitted the existence of the £120,000 diamond necklace then she has extraordinarily provided corroborating evidence implicating her husband as being the owner of the illegal offshore bank account.

Let see what comes next…


Honest Desi said...

Why did Pakistani media cover BB's appearanace in the Swiss Court based on an account fed by NAB?

Shouldn't they have sent reporters to independently find out what happened? If they could not do that, they certainly should not have depended on NAB's tendentious coverage.

Onlooker said...

As long as Pakistani news publishers regard making money - rather than objective news - as their main goal, the local press will continue to accomodate Government/agencies intereference in news reporting.
Press has never been really free in Pakistan. It takes courage and determination to break this mould. With the exception of say publications like Newsline and Herald the rest are a pretty timorous lot - this includes most of the new television news companies. It is indeed a sad reflection of the current state of Pakistan and its Press barons.

Honest Desi said...

I guess we will have to wait for the Swiss Court to pronounce judgement or describe its proceedings officially until we know the facts of this case.

Like many democratic leaders, Ms Bhutto allowed graft around her -- something that is unfortunate. She still remains a voice for democracy in Pakistan and the military's hounding of her is, in my view, far worse than any crimes and misdemeanors committed by her. That the Pakistani authorities have not been able to secure a conviction against her indicates their desire to politically use cases against Ms Bhutto instead of seeking justice.

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