ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has launched a probe into allegations of money laundering against Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif.

“Chairman NAB retired Justice Javed Iqbal ordered complaint verification lodged against Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif for allegedly (being) involved in money laundering,” said a press release issued by the bureau on Wednesday.

“NAB will provide ample opportunity to Khawaja Asif to confront allegations of money laundering as per law and the final decision will be made on the basis of solid evidence,” the announcement said.

NAB has started the probe into the allegations against Mr Asif, a frontline leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, on a complaint filed by deputy secretary general of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Usman Dar, who also hails from Sialkot, the hometown of Mr Asif.

Meanwhile, the PTI has welcomed the NAB decision to launch an investigation into the allegations against Mr Asif.

PTI leader Dar said in a statement he had already provided NAB evidence of Mr Asif’s foreign accounts and money laundering.

In a letter recently sent to NAB, Mr Dar claimed that Mr Asif had accepted that he was also an Iqama (UAE work permit) holder and had remained involved in money laundering.

“Khawaja Asif has also been accused of concealing his offshore assets from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP),” the complainant said. He claimed that the minister was getting a monthly salary of Rs1.6 million from an Abu Dhabi-based firm.

The complaint contained details of Mr Asif’s offshore firm and business and alleged that millions of rupees were being deposited in his foreign bank account.

Mr Asif was also accused of using foreign bank account of his wife to receive heavy amounts. He had not declared his and his wife’s foreign bank accounts to the ECP, Mr Dar claimed.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2018