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Accountability court unfreezes bank accounts of Dar’s charity

Updated January 25, 2018

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ISHAQ Dar pleads that freezing 
of accounts will hamper 
working of orphanage.
ISHAQ Dar pleads that freezing of accounts will hamper working of orphanage.

ISLAMABAD: The accountability court on Wednesday unfroze the bank accounts of a charity organisation of former finance minister Ishaq Dar, who is facing trial in a reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) over “owning assets beyond his known sources of income”.

The accountability court Judge Mohammad Bashir allowed the petition for unfreezing of the accounts of the Hajveri Trust filed by Mr Dar through his counsel.

He had also filed another application against seizure of properties related to the Hajveri Foundation. The court decided to issue an order in this matter in the next hearing.

The prosecution had opposed unfreezing of the accounts of the trust and suggested the limit for withdrawal of amount from the accounts of Hajveri Trust should be restricted.

The petition said the trust was looking after 93 orphans and the freezing of its accounts would adversely affect its daily affairs, including education and other basic needs of the children.

It said the accounts had been frozen for the past few months and access to them had been denied. Subsequently, the chairperson of the orphanage, Shahida Naeem, was forced to meet expenses incur­red on the orphans on her own.

The petition expressed the apprehension that it was not a sustainable arrangement and feared that the orphanage might be closed due to want of funds.

“This would be an irreparable loss to the orphans as well as the Hejvery Trust,” it added.

Mr Dar’s counsel told the court that the management required Rs1 million every month to smoothly run the orphanage. Moreover, he said, the trust was also involved in other humanitarian work as it provided between Rs50m and Rs60m to different hospitals for free of cost dialysis of poor patients.

Though the NAB’s prosecutor admitted that the Hajveri Trust was delivering charity services, he also alleged that Mr Dar was misusing its bank accounts.

To fix an amount for monthly withdrawal, he proposed, the court might order the conduct of an audit of the accounts of the trust.

The court then ordered restoration of the accounts with the warning that if an amount drawn from the accounts was used for any other purpose than meeting daily expenses of the orphanage, action might be taken against the applicant as per the National Accoun­tability Ordinance (NAO), 1999.

The NAB had frozen all accounts of Mr Dar, including that of the Hajvery Trust, in September last year. The bureau was of the view that the former minister used the trust accounts to acquire assets beyond his known sources of income.

Mr Dar was facing ex-parte proceedings in the assets reference until December 20, 2017, when the Islamabad High Court (IHC) issued a stay order against the trial until January 17.

The IHC stopped the accountability court from proceeding against Mr Dar after he pointed out anomalies in the references.

In its July 28, 2017 verdict, the SC had directed the bureau to file four references — three against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members and one against Mr Dar — in the accountability court. After he left the country for medical treatment, the accountability court declared Mr Dar a proclaimed offender and initiated the process of confiscating his properties.

NAB had seized all of Mr Dar’s moveable and immoveable assets including a house in Gulberg III, Lahore; three plots in Al-Falah Housing Society, Lahore; six acres of land in Islamabad, a two-kanal plot in the Parlia­mentarians’ Enc­lave, Islamabad; a plot in the Senate Cooperative Housing Soci­ety, Islamabad; another plot measuring two kanals and nine marlas in Islamabad and six vehicles.

The NAB alleges that Mr Dar has acquired in his name and/or in the names of his dependants assets worth Rs831.7m, which is disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2018