New York, Aug 22 : Contrary to the general impression that PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari has been absolved of all corruption charges, within Pakistan and abroad, a US news magazine has reported that he continues to remain under criminal investigation in Switzerland over allegations that he received kickbacks from two Swiss-based companies.
The magazine quoted a Swiss judge and two Swiss lawyers privy to the case.
Zardari, who always claimed that corruption allegations against him were politically motivated, might be using his growing political clout in Islamabad to pressurise Swiss authorities to curtail, or even close, their long-running investigation into his affairs, the Newsweek quoted Swiss legal sources as saying.
The magazine further said that Zardari, through a spokeswoman, maintained that the probe was already closed. In response to an email from the magazine, Zardaris's spokesman Farah Ispahani said: "Zardari feels that you have been misinformed and that the case that you are referring to is closed. Please be careful about reporting something that may have been planted," reported the Dawn.
It may be pointed out that the Swiss investigations against Zardari and his slain sponse Benazir Bhutto were opened years ago during Nawaz Sharif's tenure as prime minister. Nawa had requested official legal assistance from Switzerland, where Pakistani authorities suspected that the couple had stashed proceeds from alleged corrupt activities. The Pakistani government hired lawyers in Switzerland to gather evidence against the duo and help Swiss investigators with their inquiries.
US officials have in the recent past said that they viewed Zardari as "one of the most important Pakistani officials" the US deals with on sensitive issues such as the hunt for Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders in volatile tribal areas along the country's border with Afghanistan. However, they remain wary of Zardari because of corruption allegations that have swirled around him for years. Benazir served two terms as prime minister and her spouse served a stint as investment minister, wrote the magazine in the report.