Zardari is a billionaire

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Islamabad, Dec.10 (ANI): Pakistan President Asif Zardari is a billionaire overseeing a vast global empire built on property and investments, the country's Supreme Court has heard.

According to The Telegraph, his fortune was allegedly accumulated during his late wife Benazir Bhutto's two terms of government when he became known as "Mr Ten Per Cent".

It was the subject of a series of corruption cases until they were dropped under an amnesty to allow the late Miss Bhutto and her supporters to return to Pakistan.

The Supreme Court in Islamabad is now due to rule on whether the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), under which corruption and murder cases against more than 8,000 politicians, civil servants and other public figures were dropped, is unconstitutional.

The government's National Accountability Bureau claimed in written testimony on Monday that Zardari owned homes and estates throughout the world, including Britain, where he paid 4.35 million pounds for an estate in 1995 which was dubbed by critics as his "Surrey Palace".

Neighbours at the time claimed he had built his own private polo ground on the 350-acre estate and recreated the local village pub in one of its suites.

Zardari, whose father was the humble owner of a small Karachi cinema, has allegedly amassed a fortune of 876 million pounds in properties and deposits banked in Britain, the US, France and Spain, and 175 million pounds in Pakistan.

The assets were said to be acquired in commissions from allegedly corrupt deals. One involved the grant of a business licence to one of the country's richest men, another from a European company.

In another case, Zardari was charged with illegally constructing a polo field in the grounds of Prime Minister's House.

These cases were dismissed last year under the National Reconciliation Ordinance, which was introduced by the former military ruler Pervez Musharraf under a deal to allow Miss Bhutto to return to the country. (ANI)

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