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Non-bailable warrants out for ‘embattled’ Dar

November 15, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Even as rumours regarding his possible replacement swirled in the capital, an accountability court on Tuesday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Finance Minister Ishaq Dar over his continuous absence from proceedings in the assets reference against him.

The court ordered the attachment of the properties of Hussain and Hassan Nawaz, since they have also not joined proceedings in the three references filed against them on the orders of the Supreme Court.

Finance Minister Dar’s counsel Qusain Faisal Mufti told the court that during his client’s angiography it was discovered that one of the blood vessels leading to his heart had ruptured, and offered the court to try him via video link.

Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir, however, dismissed Mr Dar’s application seeking exemption from appearance and directed his guarantors to ensure the finance minister’s presence at the next hearing on Nov 21, or else face confiscation of his bail bonds.

Court attaches properties of ex-PM’s sons; judge dismisses finance minister’s petition for exemption from appearance

NAB investigation officers (IOs) Mehboob Alam, Imran Dogar and Mohammad Kamran appeared before the court on Tuesday and submitted compliance reports regarding the proclamations of Hassan and Hussain Nawaz.

The IOs recorded their statements and told the court that all formalities had been fulfilled, after which the accused could be declared proclaimed offenders.

The IOs told the court that they had pasted the proclamation notices at the Sharif family residences in Jati Umra, Raiwind and Model Town in Lahore.

Proclamation notices were also dispatched to the Pakistan High Commission in London through the Foreign Office. In its compliance report, the high commission stated that the proclamation notices were pasted at the brothers’ residence in Avenfield.

Earlier, summons were also delivered at the same address, the IOs told the court.

The news of the siblings’ proclamation was also widely reported in the print and electronic media, the IOs told the court, adding that the accused were wilfully avoiding proceedings and asked the court to declare them proclaimed offenders.

IO Kamran submitted the details of Hussain Nawaz’s four bank accounts in the Standard Chartered Bank, containing 4,272 euros, $3,992, 207.53 pounds and Rs382,381, respectively.

The officers told the court they had written to the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) and Defence Housing Authority (DHA) to inquire whether Hussain and Hassan own any property there, but no properties were found in their name. Similar letters written to the Lahore deputy commissioner and Bahria Town administration have yet to be answered.

Dar’s condition

The minister’s counsel told the court on Tuesday that doctors had advised Mr Dar to rest for three to six weeks. Conveying the information relayed to him by Dar’s son, Advocate Mufti said that a formal medical report on his condition was still awaited would be submitted to the court as soon as it was available.

Advocate Mufti said Mr Dar intended to appoint him as the pleader in this case, but NAB prosecutors vehemently opposed the plea for exemption from appearance, insisting that non-bailable arrest warrants should be issued.

NAB Prosecutor Imran Shafique argued that Mr Dar’s counsel had submitted a vague report. Disputing it, he said that as per a previous report, the minister’s angiography had to be performed on Nov 3.

At first, the accused consulted a British doctor and, when he did not prepare a favourable report, the accused turned to another doctor of Indian origin.

The accused has not been appearing before the court since Oct 30, which was the first time arrest warrants were issued in his name.

Meanwhile, NAB chief retired Justice Javed Iqbal has ordered the freezing of two more properties belonging to Mr Dar. The bureau filed an application to this effect before the accountability court, seeking endorsement of the decision.

In his freezing order, Justice Iqbal said: “I am of the view that there are reasonable grounds to believe that prima facie the offences of corruption and corrupt practices have been committed as enumerated in section 9(a)(v) of the NAB ordinance of 1999, accordingly in exercise of power conferred upon the chairman NAB under section 12 of National Accountability Ordinance, freezing order is hereby passed”.

The properties include plot numbers 33 & 34 in Holiday Park, Ali Razabad, Raiwind Road, Lahore and property number 92-B-1 on M.M. Alam Road, Gulberg.

The first property is owned by the Hajveri Trust, while the second is the property of the Hajveri Foundation. In its application, NAB said both properties were owned by Mr Dar, his wife and their companies.

In his order, the NAB chief said: “The assets and properties mentioned in the reference are not to be disposed of, pledged, sold or alienated and more, so their status shall not be changed in whatsoever manner till disposal of the reference”.

Ishaq Dar is accused of owing assets beyond his known sources of income, with NAB alleging that Mr Dar has acquired assets in his own name and/or in the names of his dependants totalling around Rs831.7million. The reference alleges that these assets were disproportionate to his known sources of income.

If the rumours circulating in the capital are to be believed, the embattled finance minister’s cabinet slot may be taken away from him. Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has already taken Mr Dar’s seat on the Council of Common Interests, and speculation is rife about who may be chosen to replace him.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2017