Finance Minister Ishaq Dar appeared before an accountability court in Islamabad for the seventh time on Monday as his trial resumed in a reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
The NAB prosecution presented two new witnesses against the minister today.
The first witness, Abdul Rehman Gondal, branch manager of a private bank's parliament branch, completed his statement and was cross-examined by Dar's counsel Khawaja Haris.
Gondal provided details of the account held by Dar in the bank. He informed the court that NAB had summoned him along with relevant documents on August 16 and he submitted the requisite record concerning Dar to NAB's investigating officer.
Gondal said he had provided bank statements of Dar ranging from March 25, 2005 to August 16, 2017 to NAB. The bank transaction details provided by the witness were made part of case record by the court.
The court directed to him appear in the next hearing with additional record.
The second witness, Masood Ghani, the operations manager in a private bank, later gave his testimony regarding Dar's bank account.
During his cross-examination, Khawaja Haris pointed out that the verified copies of bank documents presented by Ghani are different from the originals submitted to NAB. The court then asked the witness to appear in the next hearing with the original documents.
During the hearing, the judge observed that the objective of recording statements of various bank officials is to gather the accused's bank data and compare it with his declared assets to ascertain the wrongdoing, if any.
Monday's hearing saw senior counsel Haris and NAB Special Prosecutor Imran Shafiq exchange hot words after the defence counsel asked the prosecution witnesses some technical questions. The NAB prosecutor accused Haris of creating a "hostile atmosphere", while the counsel suggested that the prosecutor go and talk to media if he wanted to "make the headlines".
NAB authorities informed the court during the hearing that they have frozen Dar's assets after filing a reference against him. They submitted an application seeking the court's endorsement of the move. The application will be taken up at a later hearing.
The court has summoned two additional witnesses, Faisal Shahzad and Mohammad Azeem, also from the banking sectors, for the next hearing. The hearing was subsequently adjourned till October 30.
Last Wednesday, the court had adjourned the hearing of the graft cases until October 23 after Dar's senior counsel left the country in a rush earlier the same day.
In the preceding hearing of the case, Haris had cross-questioned Al-Baraka Islamic Bank's Assistant Vice President Tariq Javed — the prosecution's third witness.
The court had indicted Dar last month in a NAB reference pertaining to his owning assets "beyond his known sources of income”.
'Assets beyond known income'
On July 28, a five-member Supreme Court bench had ordered NAB to file three references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and one against Dar, on petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Imran Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami’s Sirajul Haq and Awami Muslim League’s Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.
In its reference against the finance minister, NAB has 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 (approx)”.
The reference alleged that the assets were “disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for”.
With additional reporting by Inamullah Khattak in Islamabad.