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ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) decided on Wednesday to pursue all references for recovery of over Rs1 trillion believed to have been swallowed in more than 1,300 corruption cases in the past three to five years.

A meeting presided over by NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal was informed that the references (including common and mega corruption cases) have already been filed in different accountability courts.

NAB has to recover over Rs900 billion in 1,138 references and Rs500bn in 176 mega corruption cases and 96 under-trial references. Majority of cases are being dealt by NAB’s Rawalpindi and Karachi regions.

NAB will request the accountability courts for early disposal of references so that the looted amount could be recovered and deposited in the national kitty.

An insider told Dawn that 1,138 references had been filed against politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen.

According to an official press release, the NAB chairman has sought details from the bureau’s operation and prosecution divisions regarding 500 inquiries, 287 investigations and 1,138 under-trial references to ascertain present status of these cases.

The chairman also called for fixing responsibility for the delay in preparation of references and lack of pursuance by the prosecution wing in under-trial cases.

“Why under-inquiry and under-investigation cases have not been filed in courts within prescribed period of 10 months,” he asked.

The meeting was apprised of 176 mega corruption cases which are being investigated against top politicians, including ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, former president Asif Ali Zardari, former prime ministers Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf.

It is learnt that the amount involved in mega corruption cases runs into hundreds of billions, but NAB is expected to recover only Rs500bn.

One of the mega corruption cases involving Rs462bn is against former federal minister Dr Asim Hussain of the Pakistan Peoples Party.

The cases of private housing societies being pursued by the NAB, Rawalpindi, involved over Rs20bn. The NAB has to recover Rs20bn in Modaraba cases and Rs5bn in a case related to former Sindh minister Sharjeel Memon.

A NAB report said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was also accused of making illegal appointments in Federal Investigation Agency and misuse of authority. The investigation into this case was ordered in 1999. Another case against Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif has been pending since 2000 in which they were accused of misappropriating Rs125.6 million in construction of a road from Raiwind to their house.

A case against former president Asif Zardari is under trial since 2001.

The Supreme Court had ordered NAB on July 7, 2015, to complete investigations into these cases by the end of that year, but it sought time three to four times in the past.

Other prominent figures who are facing mega corruption cases are: former prime minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Amir Haider Hoti, former Balochistan chief minister Aslam Raisani, former communications minister Arbab Jahangir and his wife Begum Asma Arbab, Asif Nakai, MPA, Syed Iftikhar Shah, MNA, former minister Murid Kazim, former chairman of the National Insurance Company Ltd Ayaz Khan and Javed Akram and former chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Asif Hashmi.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2017