Court indicts Dar for graft

Published September 28, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Jostled by PML-N supporters and security personnel, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar arrives to appear before an accountability court on Wednesday.—AP
ISLAMABAD: Jostled by PML-N supporters and security personnel, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar arrives to appear before an accountability court on Wednesday.—AP

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court indicted Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Wednesday in a reference pertaining to his owning “assets beyond his known sources of income” less than 48 hours after receiving copies of the reference and other material comprising 23 volumes.

Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir also summoned two prosecution witnesses in the case on Oct 4. The same court will resume its proceedings against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his children Maryam Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz, Hassan Nawaz and his son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar on Oct 2.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed three references against Mr Sharif and his family and one against Mr Dar on Sept 8 on the directions of the Supreme Court. However, Mr Dar has pleaded not guilty.

On Sept 18, NAB’s Lahore office wrote to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), reminding the banking regulator that as a reference against Mr Dar was pending, “the bank accounts of Mr Dar may be cautioned”.

Charges framed against finance minister less than 48 hours after receipt of reference, other material comprising 23 volumes

The directions to file the references came from the Supreme Court in its July 28 verdict, on the basis of an investigation report prepared by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) consisting of officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, NAB, Secu­rities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and the SBP.

In the reference against Mr Dar, NAB had alleged that “the accused has acquired assets and pecuniary interests/resources in his own name and/or in the name of his dependants of an approximate amount of Rs831.678 million.” The reference alleged that the assets were “disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for”.

On Wednesday, the registrar of the accountability court banned journalists from entering the premises of the Federal Judicial Complex (FJC) where the accountability court is situated, so details of the court proceedings were shared by Capital Administration and Development Division Minister Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.

Standing in front of the FJC building, Mr Chaudhry told media persons that the finance minister appeared before the accountability judge along with his counsel Advocate Amjad Pervez. The court was reminded that under accountability laws, the court could indict a suspect at least seven days after the distribution of a reference.

However, Mr Chaudhry claimed that this was a unique case wherein the court had indicted a suspect less than 48 hours after receiving copies of the reference and other material comprising 23 volumes.

He said that Mr Dar’s counsel had requested the accountability judge not to indict his client in haste and to give him reasonable time to study the reference and other materials, but the judge had not considered his request. Mr Chaudhry added that after indicting the finance minister, the court then summoned two witnesses on Oct 4.

The prosecution has listed 28 witnesses against the finance minister and the accountability court, on the directions of the Supreme Court, is required to complete the trial in six months.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2017

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