KARACHI: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing money laundering allegations that Saeed Ahmed, incumbent president of the National Bank of Pakistan, was running a nursing home in London before his appointment as deputy governor of the State Bank of Pakistan.

In his statement before the JIT on July 3, the finance minister said he knew Mr Ahmed from his days in college and recommended him for the office of deputy governor of the central bank and then as NBP president.

The JIT specifically asked the finance minister whether he knew what Mr Ahmed was doing before he was appointed SBP deputy governor. “He [Mr Ahmed] was running a nursing home for elderly people in London for last many years. As a lot of people living in London do not have the time to take care of their elders. But he was a very qualified person and an actuary by profession,” replied Mr Dar, according to his statement to the JIT.

Mr Ahmed was among a few individuals who had submitted to the Supreme Court a complaint accusing the JIT of insulting and mistreating him during his appearance before the team last month. His name has been cited in the final report of the JIT submitted to the apex court on multiple occasions.

The report said that investigations revealed that the process of money laundering had started in Sept 1991 and some suspicious transactions showed that funds amounting to $2.23 million had been deposited in two accounts opened in the names of Saeed Ahmad and Mukhtar Hussain. Subsequently, all the money from these accounts had been transferred to the accounts of Musa Ghani and Talat Masud Qazi through dollar bearer certificates (DBCs) to hide the source of the funds, it said.

When the JIT asked Mr Dar about Mr Ghani, he said: “He is my nephew and now lives in USA. He is a British citizen. I have not met him for quite a long time and do not remember the last time we met.”

About the transfer of Rs102 million from the account of Hajveri Modarba to the account of Mr Ahmed in 1999, which was withdrawn in cash, the finance minister said he did not remember what the background of that transaction was.

He also told the JIT that it seemed improbable that Mr Ahmed, a director of Hajveri Modarba, would give him the power of attorney to operate the account as, being the chief executive, he had a lot of other business matters to deal with. “I did not operate this account and I do not know anything about it.”

Mr Dar refused to tell the JIT about a company — Baraq Holdings — which he said he managed on behalf of Sheikh Nahyan of Abu Dhabi as his nominee. He said he was acting as an adviser to Sheikh Nahyan from February 2002 to March 2008.

“I cannot provide the details of the companies that belong to this group as it is privileged information. I can, however, say that it has no link or transaction with any Pakistani company,” he said.

Mr Dar also refused to inform the JIT about details of the remunerations he got as Sheikh’s adviser.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2017

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